Pickpocket Gene to perform at Winter Texan Expo

Gene Turner

Performing January 15 at 9:30 a.m.


Gene Turner began his career as a pickpocket entertainer almost by accident. As an insurance salesman, Gene would perform magic tricks for his clients.  But soon, they wanted him to perform at parties more than they wanted to talk insurance. By 1985, Gene found he was successful enough with his comedy, magic, and pickpocket demonstrations to leave the world of actuarial tables behind and dedicate himself to his real love–performing.


Since that time, the demand for Gene’s talents as a corporate magician, pickpocket infotainer (someone who uses entertainment to inform or educate), and speaker has grown to over 150 events each year and includes performances and speaking engagements for many Fortune 500 companies. He wows audiences at seminars, conferences, stockholder meetings, trade shows, awards banquets, and celebrity receptions. He is an incredible keynote speaker and master of ceremonies, using his skills to motivate, inform and entertain.


Gene is a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist and makes numerous presentations weekly on the subjects of identity theft risk reduction, travel safety and security, and pickpocket prevention. He speaks to small and large audiences alike and recently presented to a crowd of over 1,500 people. Using his skills as a pickpocket infotainer, Gene has addressed law enforcement personnel and has presented numerous fraud and identity-theft-prevention seminars for the banking and education communities and the military.  He travels coast to coast yearly, displaying his own special brand of magic and humor. Gene’s incredible sleight-of-hand skills, combined with his memorable presentation style, make his keynotes and seminars on identity theft protection a one-of-a-kind experience. His ability to create “Magic with a Message” has enabled him to perform for groups of all sizes and backgrounds, delivering topics in a memorable, fun way. Throughout his professional career, Gene has appeared on countless television and radio programs to demonstrate his magic skills and humor while conveying his message. Additionally, he served as a coach for the pickpocket scenes in the movie Bulletproof Monk and performed at a birthday party for the world-famous actress/singer/performer Bette Midler.


Visit Gene’s website at pickpocket.com or his Facebook page, Pickpocket Gene.


The Winter Texan Expo is a fun-filled, two day event held each year in January.  This year’s event will be held on January 15-16, 2019 at the McAllen Convention Center. Admission is free, and so is the parking!  For more information visit www.wintertexanexpo.com.

Jason Whorlow Performing at Winter Texan Expo

January 16 at 12:15 p.m.


Jason Whorlow is in his fifth year of entertaining Winter Texans. He has been nominated–and won–several awards during this time and is now in high demand for his extremely versatile, unique, and interactive show. Jason has had crowds of over 400 singing along to Sweet Caroline, with their hands raised high in the air. At his shows, you will find couples dancing emotionally to Can’t Help Falling in Love and Unchained Melody. Winter Texans have enjoyed his energetic performances with music by Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joel, Elton John, and others. Jason also enjoys playing to laid-back Island crowds with songs by Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band, Otis Redding, Jimmy Buffet, and so many more. He prides himself on his ability to effortlessly enjoy each and every performance with gratitude because he is living out his dream as an entertainer.


Jason often features his young daughters, with songs from The Greatest Showman, Alison Krauss, Linda Ronstadt, and others.   He will be performing at over 50 venues this 2018-2019 season.  You can experience this one-of-a-kind show by emailing Jason at jasonwhorlow@gmail.com.  Visit Jason’s website at whorlowentertainment.com and explore more videos and pictures on his social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and WeddingWire.


The Winter Texan Expo is a fun-filled, two day event held each year in January.  This year’s event will be held on January 15-16, 2019 at the McAllen Convention Center. Admission is free, and so is the parking!  For more information visit www.wintertexanexpo.com.

You’re Invited to Our Winter Texan Expo Fiesta!

It will be a party to remember!


            Last year, approximately 8,000 seniors attended the Welcome Home RGV Winter Texan Expo at the McAllen Convention Center.  This year we’re expecting the party to be even bigger!


            Mark your calendars now for January 15 and 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The Winter Texan Expo will be held at the McAllen Convention Center again this year and is being presented by South Texas Health System.  Although it is called Winter Texan Expo, all seniors in the Rio Grande Valley are invited to our party!


            Visit the Winter Texan Expo website at wintertexanexpo.com to see the long list of exhibitors who will be there to inform you about outings in the Rio Grande Valley, healthcare, products and services, nonprofit organizations, sporting events, entertainment venues, and much, much more!


            Be sure to wear your dancing shoes to our party because the entertainment is going to get you in the boogieing mood.  January 15 on the main stage, we have Pickpocket Gene, The Kody Norris Show, the Patsy Cline tribute with Rainy, and last but not least, Rick McEwen.  Come back for more on January 16 for performances by Ralph Kuster, KAI, Jason Whorlow and Rusty Rierson.


            Did we mention that admission is free?  And that’s not the only thing that’s free at the Winter Texan Expo!  Health screenings are free, party favors (aka door prizes) are free, and the knock-your-socks-off entertainment is free.  We all love free!


           We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the sponsors for our anniversary party. Thank you to our presenting sponsor South Texas Health System and our gold sponsors AIM Media, Burns Motors, City of McAllen, Gulf Coast Eye Institute, HEB, Mustre Dental Clinic, Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department, Shah Eye Center, Texas Regional Bank, The Mackie Clinic, Universal Vests and Harlingen Convention & Visitors Bureau.


            We are so excited to be celebrating you!  See you at the biggest party of the season in the Rio Grande Valley, the 26th Annual Winter Texan Expo!

“Winter Texan Wednesday: It’s a Hard Luck Life!”

Winter Texans and retirees are invited to participate in “Winter Texan Wednesday: It’s a Hard Luck Life!” featuring Neil Cassady, a Texas Master Naturalist and museum volunteer, December 19 at 3 p.m. at the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg. “Winter Texan Wednesday” is a half-hour multimedia presentation followed by a half-hour mini-tour of part of a museum exhibit.


Imagine living in South Texas before air conditioning, internet access and other modern conveniences to protect you from the region’s riparian forest landscape. How could anyone survive the scorching sun rays in South Texas, or the landscape filled with very few trees but lots of brush? Cassady will discuss how the Coahuiltecans and early Spanish settlers survived in the Rio Grande Valley with the help of native plants and trees. The presentation will be followed by a mini-tour of MOSTHistory’s River Frontier exhibit.


Winter Texan Wednesday is included in the regular museum admission fee: Adults (18+) $7; Seniors (62+) $5. Museum admission also includes access to the signature Rio Grande Legacy exhibition. For more information, please contact the museum at 956-383-6911.


About Museum of South Texas History


The Museum of South Texas History is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is located in downtown Edinburg at 200 N. Closner Blvd. on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square. Hours of operation are from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday. Founded in 1967 as the Hidalgo County Historical Museum in the 1910 Hidalgo County Jail, the museum has grown over the decades through a series of expansions to occupy a full city block. In 2003, following the completion of a 22,500 square foot expansion, the museum was renamed the Museum of South Texas History to better reflect its regional scope. Today, the museum preserves and presents the borderland heritage of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico through its permanent collection and the Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives and exhibits spanning prehistory through the 20th century. For more information about MOSTHistory, including becoming a FRIEND, visit MOSTHistory.org, like us on Facebook, follow on Twitter, find on Google+ or call +1-956-383-6911.

A Tejano Christmas Carol plays again at Pharr Community Theater

For the third consecutive year, Pharr Community Theater (PCT) will present the classic play, A Tejano Christmas Carol. This Charles Dickens adaptation is set in the RGV where the mean spirited, shyster Mr. Ezequiel Codos serves as a powerful attorney and greedy water broker. He owns vast property on both sides of the Rio Grande, including tons of water rights, and when he decides to sell all those rights the river dries up to grave consequences in the future.


In the process he’s visited by three ghosts that include a soldier woman from the Mexican Revolution, played by Armandina Sesin, who has acted the part for the last three years.


“I love playing ‘La Soldadera’/The Ghost of Christmas Past because she reminds me of Mexico and it’s incredible history including the romantic side of the revolution, added Armandina. “The Christmas season is coming and this play is perfect for it, please come and enjoy it”.


Fourteen year old Andres Flores from San Juan attends Austin Middle School as an 8th grader. This is his second play with PCT where he now performs in the role of the Ghost of Christmas present, as a young Zoot Suiter alongside 20 other characters and townsfolk who eventually help Codos find a better way, a kinder spirit.


“I love being an actor in a play, it has every basic element, I get a cool feeling when out there on stage and you have so much fun saying your lines in front of a crowd, the energy makes me feel great. I connect well to this character”, chuckled the young actor.


As the local theater company continues to celebrate it’s 10 year, this production has nearly 30 local actors, crew and technicians, including Nela De La Garza as Stage and Production Manager. It also marks the 3rd year in a row that veteran actor and company director, Pedro Garcia plays Mr. Codos, the Scrooge equivalent.


“I seldom cast myself in our plays but this is a part I feel I was cut to play, especially now that I’ve gotten older,” said Garcia. “Codos is a fun character because he’s mean…jeje. I allow myself to try different intonations with him, and this time I’m happy to be offered direction by our new director, Seres Jaime Magaña”.


Twenty-seven year old Magaña first took acting classes with Garcia when he was 14 years old and was brought back into the theater a year and half ago to write and direct the play, The Tragic Corrido of Romeo & Lupe, loosely based on Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet. The play was a hit!  Again under the supervision of Garcia, Magaña is being poised to direct on his own soon.


“I’m going about it one step at a time… getting more and  more involved with everything that comes into a production of a play; costumes, lights, music, the setting of the stage, directing actors and seeing what it really takes to orchestrate a play”, said Magaña.


The play is family friendly.


The PCT shows are bilingual but will be in English at several planned tours to local Winter Texan Parks.


The play runs November 28 through December 2 at Pharr Community Theater at 213 W Newcombe Ave., Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (Please note: The Saturday, December 1st show will coincide with the City Of Pharr Christmas Posada. It is advised to come earlier that day to find parking in the surrounding vicinity of the theater. Tickets for the play are only $6 for students, military and senior citizens and $8 general admission, and will be sold on a first come, first served basis starting one hour prior to showtime at the theater or in advance by calling 956-239-0412. (The intimate space seats only 60 persons at a time).


The bilingual version will also tour to the Pharr Events Center at 3000 N Cage Blvd on December 4 at 7:30 pm. Tickets to this show are $3 per person or 2 tickets for $5 and will only be sold at the door, starting one hour prior to showtime.


Four more shows, in English, will take place at 4 RGV WINTER TEXAN PARKS: Dec. 14 thru Dec. 19, 2018:


Dec 14 @ 7:00 pm (Fri)

El Valle Del Sol (Peppermint Palace)

2500 E Business Hwy 83, Mission, TX.

For more info. call 956-585-5704


Dec 17 @ 7:00 pm (Mon)

Casa Del Sol

400 North Val Verde Rd, Donna, TX.

For more info. call 956-464-9024


Dec 18 @ 7:00 pm (Tue)

Winter Haven Village

1015 W Sam Houston, Pharr, TX

For more info. call 308-289-2201


Dec 19 @ 7:00 pm (Wed)

Bentsen Grove Resort

1645 South Bentsen Palm Drive, Palmview, TX.

For more info. call 956-585-0703


Parks Admission is $7.00.  Open seating, doors open 1 hour prior to play



PIC CAPTIONS: Please feel free to utilize one or more pics for printing with the PSA/Editorial


Cast members from A Tejano Christmas Carol rehearse the dinner table scene. L-R:  Ethan Chapa, Zebony Vi Vega, Ruby E. Garcia, Lorelai G Martinez, Dante Cardenas & Katherine Chapa. The family-friendly play runs November 28 through December 2 at Pharr Community Theater.



Pedro Garcia & Armandina Sesin reprise their roles for the third year in a row as the scrooge like character, Mr. Codos and as the ghost of Christmas past, La Rielera de la Revolución Mexicana in A Tejano Christmas Carol. The family-friendly play runs November 28 through December 2 at Pharr Community Theater.


Three young actors rehearse a school classroom scene in A Tejano Christmas Carol. L-R: Zebony Vi Vega, Matthew Perez, & Andres Flores. The family-friendly play runs November 28 through December 2 at Pharr Community Theater.


Dante Cardenas will be Pablo Gomez in A Tejano Christmas Carol. The family-friendly play runs November 28 through December 2 at Pharr Community Theater.





Director, Seres Jaime Magaña offer guidance to cast members, Itza Flores, Dante Cardenas and Ruby E Garcia as they practice a party scene. The family-friendly play runs November 28 through December 2 at Pharr Community Theater.

International Festival – a tradition worth savoring

PHARR, Texas – If you’ve ever savored homestyle Greek food, or are more of a handmade Eastern European fare fan, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Most especially, be sure to try the crispy, sweet baklava.


A much-anticipated annual event, the International Festival, held at St. George’s Orthodox Church in Pharr is perfect for picking up holiday gifts, as well as for-sale specialty foods. Local families and Winter Texans alike enjoy this seasonal occurrence. If you appreciate a taste of the world, don’t miss this culinary fundraiser. Festival favorites include Greek layered pastitcio, spanakopita, grilled souvlaki and stuffed grape leaves.  On the Russian side of the gastronomic globe, try savory cabbage rolls, pirogies or hot blini. And of course, some Ukrainian honey cake.


“You won’t find anything like this Festival here in the Valley,” shares Judie Geil, long-time Parishioner of St. George’s. “Even though I now live in Houston, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Geil’s special German beirocks and strudel are already made up and ready to sell.


A fun, educational outing for the entire family, the Festival offers free entry, parking, children’s activities and a wide variety of entertainment. There’s always something for everyone to see, hear and do.  Activities and information will be shared by the Museum of South Texas History, IMAS, the McAllen Public Library, Texas Master Naturalists, Texas Master Gardeners, UTRGV CHAPS, the Lambs Loom, Gem Valley Farmers Market, Milkweed & Monarchs and more. “Two by Two Petting Zoo” will be available for children from 10 a.m. – noon.


The year’s entertainment schedule includes the wonderful UTRGV Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble, playing holiday favorites, as well as the much-beloved Mariachi Nueva Tradicion.  The children’s mariachi and conjunto groups from Creative Arts Studio will join the day’s performances, as well as members of the colibrí children’s choir. Find the exciting entertainment and activity schedule at: stgeorgetxfestival.com/entertainment.html


Elizabeth Perdomo, International Festival Director shared, “Each year, we try to include some repeat performances from past favorites, as well as adding something new.” Perdomo continued, “This year, the event will open with Scottish Pipes and Drums, and close with Robert Soto and the South Texas Indian Dancers. It should be a great day of music and dance!”


A special place for for holiday shopping, pick up some unique items created by artisans, handicraft and farmers market vendors. Everything from local honey and tasty preserves, to handmade soap, beeswax candles, Eastern European folkart and handcrafted wood items will be there to choose from. Some special vendors from Mexico will sell small batch bags of coffee grown in Mexico, handcrafted silver jewelry and more. If you’re interested, take a free guided tour of St. George Orthodox Church and the learn about the lovely icons, an ancient liturgical artform.


Vegan and vegetarian options are available for some of festival foods, including International Soups. Besides take-home soup containers, frozen versions of many specialties are also available inside the church hall. Pick up some to enjoy later.  Bring a cooler along in the car to keep ‘em cold.  Besides baklava, holiday cookies, sweet breads and other baked goods from around the world will make your mouth water.  Treat someone you love with a package or two.


Come early and spend the day. Begin the morning with freshly baked scones and muffins. Want a break to sit a while and watch the performances?  Grab a cup of Russian tea, Greek or Mexican coffee and some special baked goods from the Russian Tea Shoppe, and you’ll be ready to relax and enjoy the music. Handicapped drop off and entry access available.


One purpose for the festival is to collect food and funds for St. George Food Pantry, which serves over 100 families twice a month. Bring monetary donations, canned goods or non-perishables, new or lightly used blankets, coats, children’s clothing or toys, for the special Christmas distribution. Receive one homemade cookie as a “thank you” in the “Give a Can; Get a Cookie” campaign.


This year’s International Festival will be held on Saturday, December 8th, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at St. George Orthodox Church, 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr. To learn more about the festival, see their website at: stgeorgetxfestival.com/index.html or on Facebook at: facebook.com/St.GeorgeInternationalFestival/

Robert Vela High School Presents Chicago The Musical

The Robert Vela High School SaberStagers are pleased to announce our 6th annual fall musical, Chicago. The SaberStagers are the recipients of 5 Hidalgo County PALM Awards, including Best Musical, the most of any high school nominated. The show will be performed from Nov 29-Dec 1 and Dec 6, 8 at 7 pm, with 2 pm matinee performances on Dec 1,2,8,9. There will also be two ASL interpreted performances on Nov 30 at 7 pm and Dec 2 at 2 pm., Tickets are $10 for general admission, $6 with a valid student ID, and $5 for senior citizen 65+. For more information, call (956)-289-2650. RVHS is located at 801 E. Canton Rd., Edinburg, TX 78539.

Creep on Over to Boo at the Zoo

Zoo Members Get in Free!


BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – OCTOBER 23, 2018 – The 29th annual Boo at the Zoo is creeping around the corner.  This year’s spook-stravaganza is set for Tuesday, October 30th and Wednesday, October 31st from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on both nights.  Zoo members are allowed into the event an hour early, which is at 5:00 p.m.


Boo at the Zoo is a family-friendly alternative to trick or treating on the streets.  Families are encouraged to dress up in their favorite Halloween costumes and enjoy all the fun things the Zoo has to offer.  Boo at the Zoo features more than 50 treat stations and carnival-style games located throughout the Zoo.


New this year, we will be hosting the cake walk and placing treat stations and games in the Special Events building instead of the haunted house.


The Russell Aquatic Ecology Center will be transforming into the site of an underwater shipwreck, complete with pirates and swimming mermaids. Bring your whole family inside to pose for a picture with these maidens of the sea.


Pre-sale tickets are on sale now at the Gladys Porter Zoo office for $2.50 per person. On event days, tickets prices will go up to $3.50 per person.


Zoo Members not only receive free admission to Boo at the Zoo, but they can also come into the event before everyone else.  Members are allowed to enter Boo at the Zoo at 5:00 p.m. through the new Membership Office, located in the Zoo parking lot.  Members can pick up their free tickets from now until Oct. 29 at the Membership Office.


Members will need to show proof of their membership to receive their tickets by bringing their membership cards and a valid driver’s license.  If membership cards were lost or stolen, please contact the Zoo office at (956) 546-7187 ext. 344 to purchase replacement cards.


Parking for Boo at the Zoo is limited so arrive early, car pool or have someone drop you off so you can enjoy the festivities without delay.


Special thanks to Boo at the Zoo sponsors McDonald’s, Metro by T-Mobile, City of Brownsville, Stripes-Laredo Taco, Texas Gas Service, 5 News, XERV 9, and digital 101.5 for helping to make this event possible.


For more information, visit our website www.gpz.org or call the Zoo at (956) 546-7187.

The McAllen Wind Ensemble kicks off 44th Concert Season.

The McAllen Wind Ensemble (formerly the McAllen Town Band) is currently embarking on it’s 44th concert season.  The ensemble’s focus continues to be on improving the quality of life in the Rio Grande Valley through regular public concerts, fostering and promoting a greater appreciation of music by the general public, and encouraging continued interest and participation in music by members of the community.  Last year, under the leadership of musical director, Roger Olivarez, the ensemble took up residence at the new McAllen Performing Arts Center – the best performance concert venue in the Valley.


In addition to our traditional Tree Lighting Concert in December at the McAllen Convention Center and our July 4th Concert at Archer Park, our 2018-19 season concerts include:


November 13 “America Loves the Movies.” Join us for a fun night at the movies with some of your favorite movie soundtracks! Be sure to come dressed as your favorite movie character to participate in our costume contests and have some fun at our photo booth.


December 14 “How the McAllen Wind Ensemble Stole Christmas.” The Grinch can’t pull anything over on our Wind Ensemble!  Be ready for a night of carols and holiday fun…maybe even a visit from Santa or that mischievous Grinch!  Guest artists – The Rio Grande Valley Children’s Chorus.


February 12, 2019 “Love Stinks -An Anti-Valentine’s Day Concert.” Sick of the hearts, candy, and flowers?  So are we!  Come spend an evening with the McAllen Wind Ensemble enjoying the music of love lost, love found, and love stomped into the ground. Special Guest – mezzo-soprano Maria Avalos.


March 29, 2019 “Roaring 20s:  A Gatsby Gala.” The season finale will be a night to remember! The evening will start with a Dinner Theater followed by our 1920’s tribute concert. The evening will end with and post-concert Gatsby themed Ball! Special guest – Francisco Rocafuerte. Limited tickets available for the full Gala Experience.


Concert tickets start at just $10 and are available at The McAllen Convention Center Box Office and ticketmaster.com.  Visit mcallentownband.org for more information.


Winter-Texan season is upon us!

I don’t know about you, but to me, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!  After a long, hot summer, we are excited to see the temps start to drop, but the temperature change means something even better than getting rid of sweaty brows.  In South Texas, it means our Winter Texans are coming!


As early as October, you start to see out-of-state plates dotting the highway, and you can feel the excitement in the air that signals “the season” is coming.  Most people think “the season” officially starts November 1, but I beg to differ.  Each year, it seems our Winter Texans start to trickle in earlier and earlier.


And why not?  I’m sure you’ve heard about the arctic blasts in our northern states.  (Maybe we are being a little dramatic, but once it gets below 70, we tend to pull out our parkas.)  There’s no doubt our Winter Texans think we’re crazy, but cool weather is not something we get very often.  We get hot, hotter, and hotter than…


There is never a lack of things to do here in the Rio Grande Valley.  Whether it’s dancing, shuffleboard, swimming, racing RC cars, or playing pickleball, this is the place to do them all.


We can’t wait to see you out and about this season.  Welcome Home, y’all!


We’re just connecting the dots,



Kristi Collier is a McAllen native who loves to share her passion for the area with others.  Her company, Welcome Home RGV caters to the Winter & Converted Texan market through their events, activities, special interest publications and more.  For more information, call the Welcome Home RGV office at 956-687-5115, visit www.welcomehomergv.com or visit on facebook at facebook.com/whrgv and  facebook.com/wintertexan.