Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane…. No, it’s a plethora of kites!
By Selina Villarreal
Spring Break is here! For those of you not heading to the beach, let me tell you about Laredo’s 9th Annual Spring Break Kite Festival.
This has to be one of my favorite family friendly activities. This year the Kite Festival will be taking place on Wednesday, March 15th from noon to 7pm at North Central Park. The festival is hosted by two local City Council Members, Charlie San Miguel and Nelly Vielma.
The kiddos are out of school, pack up some kites, lawn chairs, a portable canopy, a picnic and head over to North Central Park for a day of fun in the sun. Don’t feel like packing lunches, don’t worry! There will be local food vendors on-site and you can purchase yummy goodies from them. Laredo is known for year-round sunny skies, make sure you’ve applied some sun block, take your sunglasses and pack an umbrella or two.
Some activities that will be taking place at the Kite Festival is a petting zoo and pony rides, inflatable slides, a build your own kite contest and new for this year is Knocker Ball. At a press conference that was held last week, Knocker Ball took over some of their inflatable contraptions. According to their Facebook profile, Knocker Ball is Laredo’s source for LAUGH OUT LOUD FUN! The most exciting, high flying, body flipping experience taking the whole world by storm. I’m 100% positive that I will not be joining in on the body flipping activities but I will be a sideline spectator. Who doesn’t like a good laugh? Special thanks to one of my good friends, A-Train for coming in clutch and lending me his group shot.
Another added bonus to this event is that El Metro Park and Ride will be providing complimentary trolley service from the Wal-Mart Loop 20 parking lot to North Central Park. Isn’t this great! No need to worry about finding a parking space in the neighborhood, you can make plans to purchase a kite at Wal-Mart Loop 20, purchase some last minute goodies then head on over to the designated trolley area and you’ll be taken to the Kite Festival.
Got questions about the Kite Festival? Give the City of Laredo’s Park and Leisure Services Department a buzz at 956-729-4600. Here are some sponsors I’d like to mention, without these peeps this festival wouldn’t be possible: City of Laredo, Keep Laredo Beautiful, El Metro Park and Ride, Laredo PD, Laredo FD, HEB, Wal-Mart, Big Buck Country 98.1 & Z-93, AEP Texas and many more.
After 20 months of work that included demolition of the former River Drive Mall, site work, and new building construction, The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo will open its doors to the public on Thursday, March 16, 2017. The 358,000-square-foot center will offer two-levels of retail located in the heart of downtown Laredo, with easy access to and from I-35 and International Bridges 1 and 2. CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., and Horizon Group Properties co-developed The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, with Horizon responsible for leasing and management. The new center will feature some of the best brands in outlet retail, including Michael Kors, Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger, and Under Armour.
“We are excited to open our doors,” said Gary J. Skoien, chief executive officer of Horizon Group Properties, “There is tremendous pent up demand from residents in Laredo, Nuevo Laredo, and Monterrey for an outlet shopping venue, and we cannot wait to welcome everyone to the center.” The center will be decked out for “Primavera,” a celebration of spring fashion, with floral displays boasting all the beautiful colors of spring.
While the center will officially open its doors on March 16, the Grand Opening festivities will occur in early April, just prior to Holy Week. The southern part of the U.S. hosts tens of thousands of international visitors who spend this holiday traveling to the United States, and Laredo is no exception. Mexicans typically celebrate the entire week of Semana Santa. Next to Christmas, it is one of the busiest shopping seasons for retail in Laredo.
A private, ticketed event will be hosted at the center on April 5, with proceeds benefiting Bethany House, a local non-profit organization. On Thursday, April 6, the celebration will continue with entertainment, musical performances, meet and greets, and an official dedication ceremony, among other highlights. Shoppers will be given a VIP coupon book, specially produced just for grand opening week, containing savings of 20 – 70% from many f the stores at the center.
On the weekend of March 3 – 5 Laredo, TX is hosting a number of events which may be of interest to arts lovers looking for an escape.
Laredo is a micro-environment that plays host to dozens of migratory wild-birds, and other unique natural visitors that attracts many persons to South Texas who are escaping the frigid northern temperatures. But what most people outside of the local area don’t know is that Laredo is also the home of the most nationally celebrated symphony orchestra in South Texas.
Having been awarded the ASCAP Award for Innovative Programming by the League of American Orchestras (the national organization that oversees professional orchestras across the country) in both 2007 and 2014 for its commitment to the performance of works by living American composers, the Laredo Phil offers 4-5 subscription concerts every year with diverse programming that not only covers the great music of the classical repertoire but modern “masterpieces” that are not often heard on the stages of major concert halls.
On the weekend of March 3rd-5th the weekend will be filled with music.
On Friday March 3rd the Laredo Phil hosts its annual Rising Stars Concert, with two performances at 10:00 and 12:30 in the Recital Hall at the Center for the Fine & Performing Arts at Texas A&M International University.
This concert, designed as an educational experience for local elementary school children to introduce live music with performers who are not much older than the audience – in this case 12 year old pianist Adrian Romoff, who has twice appeared on NBC’s Ellen show and was a contestant on America’s Got Talent.
Adrian will also play a role in the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert on Sunday March 5th at 3:00 p.m. also in the TAMIU Center for the Fine & Performing Arts.
Also on that program will be music in memory of those who died on 9/11 by Robert Wendell, the love story of Hamlet & Ophelia as depicted by Edward Mac Dowell, the Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Orchestra by Ibert and the 5 Ruckert Lieder of Gustav Mahler.
The Laredo Phil is welcoming world renowned musicians Gary Louie (saxophone) and Adrienne Danrich (soprano) to be soloists in this concert. Adrienne Danrich is a Grammy Award –winning artist who has performed across the country, while Mr. Louie has performed not only in the US but across Europe and has recorded with the St. Petersburg Symphony.
Other arts events take place at the Laredo Center for the Arts, the Webb County Heritage Museum and at the Martinez Fine Arts Center at Laredo Community College. Local hotels are offering special rates for guests visiting Laredo to attend any of these events.
For tickets and more information about the Laredo Phil concert offerings visit their website at www.laredophil.com or call (956) 326-3042.
As we began the Spring Semester, 2017 the 200,000th visitor to the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center at the Laredo Community College walked through our doors. On exhibit are over 100 native animals and 100 native plants, many such as Lucky the bobcat and Happy the javelin, have been with us for more than 12 years.
Every first Saturday of the academic year, September through May, we are open to the public and on that same Saturday, we also seek volunteers to work on our adjacent Paso del Indio Nature Trail which runs through 90 acres of river side property.
After the March Spring Break, we receive 1000’s of students for their end of the school year field trips. Our admission rates will be waived and we will be open free to the public on this coming Earth Day, April 22nd . This special day will feature informational booths, free recyclable bags guest speakers and food booths. The upcoming first Saturdays that we will be open, March 4th and April 1, will feature trail maintenance and planting of native shrubs and trees.
For more information you can contact the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Center at (956) 764-5701
Lately my sweet tooth has been acting up and what can I say, I’m weak. I give in easily to temptations. I was craving a funnel cake. I know I could probably make one at home but ain’t nobody got time for that. Facebook has been my go-to lately for recommendations of all kinds. A new restaurant, activity, retail shop, if I see it on Facebook there’s a good chance I’m going to stop by and check out the place.
I remembered seeing a friend check-in at Stevie’s Old Fashioned Treats. I looked them up, got the address and off I went with my trusty co-pilot to get my funnel cake.
The place is adorable, it’s a carnival! Color all over, antique signs, fixtures, a candy bar, all so cute! This establishment dedicates themselves to all sorts of carnival goodness. No need to wait around for a carnival to come to town so you can indulge, now you can indulge year round. Good-bye waistline and hello deep fried Oreo cookies. They’ve got original Clark bars, cotton candy, Bit-O-Honey, Zagnut bars, Astro Pops and so much more.
Once I stepped up to the cashier I knew I had to order more than just a funnel cake. My loyal co-pilot and I decided to order a corn dog, a foot long, chili cheese fries and of course a funnel cake. Let the record show we said no to turkey legs, all sorts of burgers, spiral potatoes, cotton candy, mini donuts and more goodies.
We stuffed our faces like competitive eaters and then the pièce de résistance came to our table. The one item that made me drive like a bat out of hell while obeying all traffic laws and got me thru the doors to Stevie’s Old Fashioned Treats – my funnel cake. I opted for no toppings. I wanted the basic funnel cake with powdered sugar. I inhaled the rest of my foot long corn dog and focused on the funnel cake. It was magical. It was so sugary. It was soooo good. Yes, I shared.
While indulging in all of these carnival treats it’s as if we were in a time warp. I hadn’t realized we stayed after closing hours. The staff should’ve hurried us off but they let us keep eating while we played Man vs Food. After this little adventure, food won. There was no way we could finish the entire funnel cake so we carried our little doggy bag while the closing cashier rolled us out.
I’ll be back Stevie’s! I’ve got my eye on those turkey legs and fried Oreo cookies. Next time I’ll be prepared and have my stretchy pants on.
Cravings will make you do the darndest. In this instance it made me consume about 4,000 calories and have the best sleep of my life.
If you’re in town and that sweet tooth is calling stop by Stevie’s Old Fashioned Treats. Find them on Facebook or check out their website: http://www.steviesoldfashionedtreats.com/. They’re located at 2402 Jacaman Road Ste 8 and you can give them a buzz at: 956-480-7068.
The WBCA Carnival sponsored by McDonald’s of Laredo is one of the biggest and eagerly anticipated events, definitely for the reason that fun and entertainment is available for thirteen days!, which includes an extra day of entertainment, Monday February 20th, 2017!
The carnival arrives at the Laredo Energy Arena parking lot on Thursday, February 9th, 2017 and includes 42 rides ranging from the soaring Ferris Wheel, roller coasters, and for theenjoyment of the little ones; The “Tilt-A-Whirl”, “Giant Wheel”, a World Class Kiddie Land and more. Don’t forget carnival food is available such as; turkey legs, cotton candy, corn dogs, pizza, funnel cakes, and more…
The carnival is open Monday thru Friday from 5:00 pm to midnight and Saturday and Sunday the gates open at Noon. Admission is $2 and Pre-sale discount ticket sheets are $8 (16 tickets per sheet). Valid dates to use the pre-sale tickets sheets at the WBCA Carnival are Feb. 15-18. The special promotion “Pay One Price” (POP) days (bracelets sell for $25) are Friday, Feb. 10, Saturday, Feb. 11, and Friday, Feb. 17.
Make plans to come out and enjoy the carnival with all the family!
For additional information, visit the page www.wbcalaredo.org, or contact their office at 1819 E. Hillside Road, Laredo, Texas, (956) 722-0589, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The WBCA Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular Sponsored by Miller Lite will take place during the 120th Washington’s Birthday Celebration on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at the Laredo International Airport (Maher Entrance). Tickets for the event are $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Preferred seating and viewing locations will be available for purchase inside the air show grounds: Flight Line Chalet $25; Sky Box $10; Bleachers $5. Additional sponsors include Falcon International Bank. In-Kind Sponsor: Rudy’s BAR-B-Q.
The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) has formally announced Brigadier General Sean A. Ryan as the air show marshal for the 2017 WBCA Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular Sponsored by Miller Lite.
One of the biggest and most celebrated acts in North America, the AeroShell Aerobatic Team will be making its second trip to Laredo. First formed in 1985, the AeroShell Aerobatic Team is the longest running civilian aerobatic team in North America. Flying their iconic white, red and black North American AT-6 Texans, the team is renowned for their professional airmanship, billowing smoke systems and can-do attitudes. During three decades of performing, the team’s four-ship formation has included several different skilled pilots: Steve Gustafson, Alan Henley, Mark Henley, Ben Cunningham, Gene McNeely, Bryan Regan, Jimmy Fordham, and Morris Ray. The team’s talent and popularity as air show entertainers has been recognized with the air show community’s two most prestigious performer awards: the Art Scholl Showmanship Award and the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship.
The AeroShell Aerobatic Team performs tight, awe-inspiring formation aerial maneuvers in front of millions of airshow fans all over North America.
Adding to the excitement is Adam “Shakenbake” Baker and his pride and joy the Extra 330 airplane. Adam loves to share his story with the younger generations as he is one of the very few in the industry that did not come from an air show or aviation family. He has dedicated his entire professional career to progression of flying. Holding almost every rating possible from Jets to helicopters to the most nimble of aerobatic aircraft he loves to fly it all. Beginning his career with only a few dollars in his pocket, he likes to share his experience and excite and inspire the next generation of pilots and individuals looking to progress and be successful in whatever endeavor it may be. Adam has a unique style of aerobatic flying, combining hard competition style precision with out of this world freestyle gyroscopic maneuvers that set him apart from all other airshow pilots.
Next, we have the Greg Shelton and Wing Walker Ashley Key in the patriotic 450 Super Stearman. Greg Shelton is the pilot and has been performing in air shows since 1990. His interest in aviation began at an early age watching fire bombers in northern California and his father’s adventures of flying fighter aircraft in the U.S. Navy. Greg has owned and performed in air shows in various aircrafts but it was until 2003 when he decided to add a wing walking act to his growing list of air show performances. Ashley Key was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and her passion for aviation started at an early age while building and flying model airplanes with her father. Aside from performing in Air shows with Greg, Key is also an Airfield Operations Supervisor, Police Sergeant at the Tulsa International Airport and is currently working on completing her bachelor’s degree in aviation management at Oklahoma State University. Ashley completed her first solo in a Cessna 172 and is currently learning to fly in a fully aerobatic 180HP clipped-wing Taylorcraft. Greg and Ashley have wowed audiences all over the United States and abroad with this aerobatic wing walking routing.
We are also proud to have Greg “Ace Maker” Colyer with his T-33, which was named Ace Maker after acquiring it in 2008. After his T-33 acquisition, he founded a nonprofit, T-33 Heritage Foundation to help in the preservation of the type. Colyer holds a Commercial Pilot certificate with instrument, single and multi engine ratings as well as being a Certified Flight Instructor. Greg stays in shape for flying high performance aircraft by cycling with the Cliff Bar team and an occasional Ironman Triathlon.
Other highlights of the show include: Freestyle Motocross, Spanky Gallaway, Jeremy Holt, Lewis Air Legends, CAF Centex, USAF, static displays provided by the Texas Military Forces, FedEx and much, much more!
For additional information contact the WBCA office at (956) 722-0589 or visit www.wbcalaredo.org or send an e-mail to email@example.com
Visitors are invited to share in the passion and challenge of admiring wildlife in and around Laredo!
The Laredo Birding Festival (LBF) 2017 attendees will experience a broad range of field trips, a birding track set up with the efficacy and mobility that lends itself to small and medium-sized birding groups. Thirteen daily field trips from February 8-11, 2017, all hosted from the historic La Posada Hotel, make this event uniquely urban-based. Yet attendees also come away with a rural get-away experience included in each and every day. It comes with the exclusive opportunity to see and immortalize south Texas fowl, flora and fauna like never before!
The event kicks off on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at the Laredo Center for the Arts, during the Birds, Beer and Cheer (and art exhibit opening) from 6:00-9:00 p.m. that will also allow attendees to take in the winning entries of the Birds of the Brush Art Contest.
Local experts from our Monte Mucho Audubon Society, paired with paid professional trip leaders that know their stuff can assist outdoor enthusiasts catch a glimpse of those “south Texas specialties,” like the White-collared seedeater. Each day, groups report back their findings and the potential to spot up to 240 species exist during the event because Laredo and surrounding counties are home to hundreds of migratory and local species during this time of the year.
Festival attendees will get to take in local public parks and trails such as Las Palmas nature trail, river vega trails, North Central Park and Lake Casa Blanca. Other locations that show off the regional assets of the area include private ranches set to take in trekkers seeking the thrill of a sighting. The LBF is made possible through the partnership and participation of the Monte Mucho Audubon Society and the Rio Grande International Study Center.
Due to its border location, it’s not a surprise that Laredo’s local food and culture is heavily influenced by Mexico, its neighbor to the south, but its Texan roots also play a big role. That is why in Laredo you can find a Tex-Mex culture that’s unique to the area. Here are five of the he top ways to experience Laredo’s food and culture.
Don’t leave Laredo without checking out the authentic goods from some of the Mexican import stores on San Bernardo Avenue. One of the top stores worth checking out is Basket & Pottery Alley, easily identified by its purple exterior paint. Step inside and browse through rows of gorgeous pottery along with fun gift ideas like sombreros, piñatas, chili pepper decorations and accessories. For high-quality pieces to add to your home, visit Vega’s Interiores Mejicanos, which specializes in home furniture and decor custom-made in Mexico. The shop has been the go-to location for authentic imports since the 1930s. Shoppers can find items like wood-carved headboards, tapestries, original paintings, mosaic tables and more. Its products will be your home’s conversation pieces when you have guests. Finally, go modern at La Coquet for trendy boutique clothing and accessories with a touch of Mexican influences. There, you will find jewelry with Our Lady of Guadalupe motifs, hand-woven tote bags and fun bangles.
Laredo has a number of annual events that take place in the area for special reasons. The annual Laredo Birding Festival each February is one of them. Due to its weather, its mix of brush and desert, land and its location on the Rio Grande River, Laredo is home to an interesting mix of bird species. And whether you’re an avid birder or curious first-timer, all are welcome at this annual event where guest speakers and world-renowned birders give lectures on the art of birdwatching. Groups also go on nature walks at Las Palmas Trail and other spots for prime birdwatching. Among the birds you may see are scaled quail, green parakeets, red-billed pigeons, our very own white collared seed eater, and many other multi-colored birds.
More exciting festivities worth checking out are scheduled during Washington’s Birthday Celebration, a month-long series of events held throughout different areas of Laredo. The type of events in the works include a tequila tasting, Comic Con and a wine tasting gala as well as parades and the mardi grass inspired Jamboozie. There’s also a Founding Father’s 5K Fun Run & Health Fair, Youth Song & Dance Festival, Jalapeno Festival and more. Many of the celebrations are sponsored by large corporations including the Anheuser-Busch’s parade and the McDonald’s carnival. The events run from January 19 to February 20, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Laredo is a great family destination with a number of cool attractions. The Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium at Texas A&M International University is one example, where you can view the stars and the galaxy up close. With digital projection, guests sit under a dome-like screen and watch super realistic views of the universe (the screen has 8 times more resolution than an HD camera). The planetarium also hosts a series of special films about exploring other countries and nature on Earth. You also can get a hands-on experience at the Imaginarium at Mall del Norte, where children and families can test the theory of science and biology. Stimulating stations include touch-screen activity centers, optical illusion tricks and games. The different hands-on exhibits allow kids to learn without any language barriers.
Art and history in Downtown Laredo
Lovers of architectural beauty will want to stop by Casa Ortiz, where some of its original structures (in the rear) date back to the late 1700s. It was re-constructed in the 1820-30s and is among the most well-preserved locations in Laredo. The building is currently managed by Texas A&M International University and was built by Mexican architect, Jose Reyes Ortiz. Lore has it that there are underground tunnels underneath the house and gold is hidden throughout the building. On the same street (Zaragoza Street, which is also home other popular destinations like La Posada Hotel), Republic of the Rio Grande Museum is another stop where you can admire historic architecture. Built in 1830, the building once housed the prominent Bartolome Garcia, rancher and Mayor of Laredo and also served as the capitol of the Republic of the Rio Grande. Although it may not look like much from the outside, visitors will feel as if they’ve stepped inside a time capsule with the adobe-style interior, which includes a clay oven and original furniture. The house-turned-museum now offers tours of exhibits that feature artifacts used by the early settlers to the area.
Get the most out of your trip by planning a visit to Villa Antigua at Border Heritage Museum. There, you will see a preserved 20th-century brick building and an impressive exhibit inside highlighting the region’s strong Mexican culture and history. The rotating exhibit includes artifacts such as tools used all the way back to the 1700s and early photographs of the area. Art lovers will get their fix at Laredo Center for the Arts, where they will see a mixture of traditional and contemporary art works by local artists. The center is known for rotating its exhibits so that upon every visit, art lovers will see something new. Visitors will notice that many of the art pieces have Mexican influences. Finally, Gallery 201 is a great alternative to see thought-provoking art pieces including photography and painting.
Thanks to Laredo’s location on the Mexican border, food is as authentic as it comes. Los Jacales Restaurant serves crispy tacos, enchiladas, brisket a la ranchera and more. Taco Palenque allows you to grab bona fide Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner with tasty meals like barbacoa tacos, antojitos, parrilladas and flan. A salsa bar is available in the restaurant for diners to mix up concoctions of how spicy or mild they want it to be. The restaurant has its own drive-thru for visitors on the go.
Tacos Kissi isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant. Its unique menu consists of seafood, sushi, tacos, and snacks, all with a hint of Mexican flavors. For delectable steaks, The Tack Room at La Posada Hotel will hit the spot. Diners will enjoy their meat dishes in a luxurious setting with white tablecloths and Victorian atmosphere. While there, don’t forget to check out its veranda that’s reputed to be the oldest in the area and overlooks one of the most stunning views of the historic district in Laredo. Some of us can’t get through the day without having a warm cup of coffee first thing in the morning, and that’s where Caffe Dolce comes in handy. Serving delicious coffee, the cafe is among the favorite places for locals to hang out and enjoy light sandwiches like chipotle chicken, crab sammie, and cilantro apple tuna. Looking to take home something for your kitchen? Pay a visit to La India Packing Co.—home to hundreds of hard-to-find spices that will take your cooking up a notch or two. The spice shop has been in business for over 76 years and remains a popular go-to shop for serious cooks. They also have a tasting room where you can enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine infused by the aromas and flavors of La India’s spices.
After making her first recorded U.S. debut in Laredo in 2010, the Amazon Kingfisher is back in Laredo at Zacate Creek. Her first visit drew in nearly 1,000 birders in the first 10 days that she was here.
Earlier this month, six years later after her first visit, this green beauty was spotted in the same area, creating a sensation for birders who have come to visit her from near and far.
Zacate Creek is located in the middle of Laredo, Texas, right on the international border with Mexico. The bird has been frequenting a stretch of the creek between the dam and the water treatment facility. There is public parking nearby, on Ventura Street.
This is the third documented ABA Area record of this species, which ranges widely from southern Tamaulipas, Mexico into South America as far south as Uruguay and Argentina.
Laredo Birding Festival
Laredo is the perfect place to watch hundreds of dazzling bird species, so we invite you all, novice and seasonal birders to the Laredo Birding Festivalon February 8-11, 2017 for an unforgettable experience.
Laredo’s young and growing festival is a 3-day birding extravaganza that provides birders the opportunity to identify new species in our area and explore the depth of Laredo’s natural beauty.
Each of our small, intimate trips are led by a professional field guide.
Nearly 200 species have been identified during our previous birding festivals, with surprise visits by new treasures and rarities every year.
Whether you’re on the hunt for our prized bird – the White-collared Seedeater – or kingfishers, thrashers, hawks, warblers, sparrows, waterfowl, orioles, and flycatchers – to name a few – Laredo is a bird lover’s dream!
The LBF is a continued collaboration with the Rio Grande International Study Center, Monte Mucho Audubon Society, and Laredo Convention & Visitors’ Bureau.