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The Fourth of July holiday is this week, and AAA estimates 2.5 million Texans will be hitting the roads.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, people spend more time traveling on the nation’s roadways during the summer months than any other time of year. The Texas Department of Transportation released tips for drivers while traveling to summertime events and family vacations.

Tips for highway driving

Always obey posted speed limits and drive to conditions, including rain and work zones.
Move over when you approach a stopped emergency vehicle, tow truck or TxDOT vehicle with lights flashing. If safely switching lanes is not possible, slow down 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. It’s the law.
Keep a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you. You never know when you might need to make a sudden stop.
Drive with your lights on so you are more visible to oncoming traffic.
Watch for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians as they are more prevalent in warm weather.
Tips to prevent drowsy driving

Never drink alcohol or take sedating medications before driving.
Get adequate sleep.
Schedule breaks about every 100 miles or every two hours. Get out and stretch your legs, but never leave a child unattended in your vehicle.
For long trips, travel with a companion who you can help you stay alert and share the driving.
Tips to prevent driving aggressively

Plan ahead and allow enough time for delays.
Drive the speed limit.
Don’t tailgate or flash your lights at another driver.
If you do encounter an angry driver, don’t engage. Give angry drivers plenty of room, avoid eye contact and if you’re concerned for your safety, call 911.


Redfish are the prized catch on Saturday as anglers take to the Laguna Madre in pursuit of the popular game fish.
But the winners will not be determined by the size, weight or number of fish. Instead they want to bring the redfish with most spots to the docks.
Called a spot tournament, the redfish must be in the legal slot of 18 to 28 inches and the fish with the most spots will win in the three age divisions of adult, junior (ages 13-18) and kids (under 12).
“We do that so we don’t have a bunch of fish killed and targeting of just big fish,” said Miriam Ford, president of Dargel Boats. “Nobody knows where the spotted fish are, so it takes some strategy and some luck.”
“The strategy comes in because the winner is determined by who brings in the first fish with the most spots,” Ford said.
The weigh in starts at 8 a.m., only one hour after fishing starts and goes until 4 p.m.
“It can get so funny,” Ford said, “because people will call in and ask but we don’t divulge how many spots have been brought to the docks.”
She said that one year the winning redfish had eight spots.
Ford said on Wednesday that 75 boats had registered, but she expects that to be more in the neighborhood of 100 boats by the weekend.
“We usually have about 100 boats and average 350 to 400 participants,” she said. “A lot of people always wait until the last minute and we do have late registration available Friday evening.”
The festivities start Friday, June 27 with a mandatory captains’ meeting and dinner at the South Padre Island Convention Center from 6-10 p.m. Late registration is available that day from 6-7 p.m.
A cannon blast will signal the start of fishing at 7 a.m., when the boats will fan out across the bay from Tequila Sunset, where the weigh in will also be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The public is invited to come out watch the fish being brought to the docks, Ford said.
The tournament is open to owners of Dargel, Explorer, BayQuest and new this year Baymaster boats.
“Last year Dargel bought Baymaster so we’ve invited them to be part of the tournament,” Ford said.
Dargel Boats was founded in 1937 by Russell Dargel. Miriam and Cleve Ford purchased the company in 2007 and have continued to build boats designed for shallow water fishing.
“Since 1937 Dargel Boats, Inc. has been building, testing and improving shallow water fishing boats making us the oldest boat manufacturer in Texas and the second oldest in the nation,” according to the company website.
Last year Dargel opened a new location at the old Baymaster location on Highway 100 outside of Los Fresnos.
“We’re so excited to be part of that community,” Ford said. “We’ve had a really good welcoming from that area and sales have been good.”


George Cox


PORT ISABEL – A moist breeze with a hint of fish scale wafted through the Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier as Ruby the Pirate Queen, dressed more like a wench, put her juggling skills on display.

First the cascade (the classic ball-tossing pattern with which most people are familiar), then she juggled bowling pins while balancing on a plant atop a barrel – absolute necessities for survival aboard a pirate ship.

“Owww,” she yelped, feigning a sore bottom. “There must be ninja pirates out there, and they’re after booty.”

Even if the double entendre escaped them, the little scallywags in the audience got a good laugh out of Ruby’s antics.

Ruby explained that sea legs are the product of bent knees and a gentle sway. She then fired a 9-pound “gollywobbler” cannon, our cue to step aboard the Black Dragon pirate ship, a replica of a 17th-century galleon, capable of handling as many as 80 crew members.

I had invited my wife and two young daughters along for the trip, thinking they’d get a kick out of a pirate show, but my 4-year-old, Matilda, was clearly not feeling the pirate vibe.

“Papa,” she whispered to me without taking her eyes off of Roba Todo (Robs Everything), the first mate. “I want to get off the boat.”

But it was too late; the Black Dragon was unmoored, and, within a matter of minutes, the ship was slicing through the blue waters of South Padre Bay.

We were introduced to the rest of the crew, including Nina and Captain No Beard, and the essentials of living by the pirate code. The most important rule aboard the Black Dragon, we learned, is equal shares in pirate treasure.

Between swashbuckling sword fights and water pistol battles were stories of pirate lore, a bit of sightseeing and even dolphin watching.

With the breeze to our backs and the thunderous clap of cannon fire keeping rival ships at a safe distance, the bar was opened, serving an assortment of grub and grog such as sodas, beer and, of course, rum.

Matilda had a scar painted on her cheek and a shark tattoo painted on her arm. Her older sister, Ana, 7, had a mustache painted on her lip and a skull and crossbones tattoo on her forearm.

Our pirate adventure had gone by in a flash.

As we returned to Pirate’s Landing Pier, Matilda – battle-hardened, weighted down with pirate booty, and a newly anointed member of the crew – had an air of confidence about her.

“Papa,” she said. “I’m not scared anymore

By Aaron M. Nelsen



First, there was Mars Crossing. Now, there’s The Flats at Mars Crossing.
The Mars Crossing theme has resurfaced in a string of land purchases at Boca Chica Beach, located just across the channel from Isla Blance Park on South Padre Island,on behalf of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The Boca Chica site is the proposed location of the world’s first private, commercial vertical launch complex in Cameron County.

In late May, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it had issued the final environmental impact statement on the proposed site. That same day, SpaceX staff, through a recently formed limited liability company – The Flats at Mars Landing – negotiated the purchase of less than an acre of land: 8,750 square feet of property near the project site. The Flats at Mars Crossing LLC was formed on March 31. Public records from the Texas Secretary of State show that SpaceX’s director of advanced projects, Steven Davis, is manager of the new company. The company’s registered agent is SpaceX’s director of business affairs, Lauren Dreyer.

The most recent purchase was from a private landowner. The Flats at Mars Crossing then transferred the property to Dogleg Park LLC, which has been purchasing property on SpaceX’s behalf at the Boca Chica site since June 2012.
This purchase brings the total number of lots SpaceX owns through its companies to 104, comprising nearly 42 acres of land. The company also has leased an additional 56.5 acres at Boca Chica. Through Dogleg, SpaceX now controls nearly 100 acres, including a parcel of slightly more than 8 acres of land named Mars Crossing Subdivision. The development comes during FAA’s much-anticipated, early July decision on SpaceX’s request for permits to launch rockets from the Boca Chica site.

This will have a huge impact on South Padre Island’s travel and tourism industry. People from all over will plan on visiting South Padre Island to view this launches first hand. Make sure to remember to plan your trip to South Padre Island and call Franke, Realtors and speak with our friendly and helpful reservation staff for your over stays.  You can also stay our family friendly hotel located right on Padre Blvd, The Inn at South Padre.


Surf’s Up….

The Surfrider Foundation South Texas Chapter hosted its 10th Annual International Surfing Day last weekend at Isla Blanca Park. Youths interested in learning how to “hang 10” took part in two clinics that instructed the youngsters on the fundamentals of surfing. Founded 10 years ago, International Surfing Day unites surfers from around the world to celebrate the exciting sport. The event also includes raising awareness anout the importance of beach maintenance, including clean-ups.

Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island has found 19 nests as of June 16. Once a nest is laid, the estimated date of hatching is anywhere from 48 to 62 days after. But, only th ehatchlings can decide when they are ready to go! Not all hatchlings are open to the public. Hatchlings can only be released when they are in an active state (known asa a “frenzy”).

When the hatchlings frenzy is in the middle of the night, they will be released up the beach by trained staff members. Night releases are not open to the public.

Hatchling releases are open to the public when hatchlings frenzy in the early hours of the morning. Public hatchling releases are held at 6:30 am  at County Beach Access No. 3 located just south of The Shores Master Planned Community and the Franke, Realtors office.

For those who are coming to town specifically to see a hatchling release, please select a range of dates where several nests are due to hatch. This will increase the chances of seeing an early morning release.

To stay informed on nest activity and hatchling releases check Sea Turtle Inc’s website for updates. Even better, become a member. Members get text messages and email notifications for hatchling and rehabilitated turtle releases. Stay tuned to Franke, Realtors website under Events for updated release dates. When planning your next visit to see a hatchling or rehabilitated release check with Franke, Realtors for special vacation rental rates for the entire family.

The world can always use a little more beauty, especially when you live on sub-tropical South Padre Island. The South Padre Island City Council last week approved a series of landscaping improvements for dozens of intersections along Padre Blvd. “It is one of the effort to beautify streetscapes… the overall project involves construction of plant boxes and additional plantings, ” said Dr. Sungman Kim, City of SPI Development Director. Kim explained that the project will improve existing roadside plant boxes through: removing the existing framing lumbers; building 23 new plant boxes; adding concrete curbs to the existing curb frames at two locations; adding shrubs and ground coverings. The city of South Padre Island will plant Pampas Grass, Texas Sage, Yellow Sophora, Drummond’s Turk’s Cap, Texas Lantana and Asiatic Jasmine in various locations along the Padre Blvd. “The list contains native and acceptable, adapted species, which means (plants) that are heat and drought tolerant” he said. The project, which is currently in the bidding process, is expected to cost the city of South Padre Island between $10,000 and $50,000. According to Kim, a few years back, the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce built plant boxes along Padre Boulevard within the City’s right-of-ways. Since then, the responsibility of maintaining the upgrades shifted to private entities and the plant boxes have been abandoned. “This is an effort to rejuvenate those existing plant boxes that have not been maintained properly,” Kim said. KIm has researched the varying impacts of functionality at industrial complexes vs. resort areas. Parks, open spaces, and beaches would best be served by aesthetically-pleasing flora. “Improved streetscapes will give a positive impression to vacation visitors of SPI and bring them back again.”

Fourth of July Beach Parade
The public is invited to join as Island residents and visitors celebrate Independence Day with a parade on the beach. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade starts at Fantasy Circle Beach Access No. 22. Participants are encouraged to decorate wagons, pets and dress in red, white and blue. Prizes will be awarded for best group, costume and wagon. Free watermelon for everyone at the end of the parade.
Stars & Stripes Beach Bash

The second annual country music shows over two nights outside the South Padre Island Convention Center. Friday, July 4 headlines Joe Nichols with Curtis Grimes, Alexis Wilkins and Roy Solis also on the bill. Saturday night brings Kevin Fowler and the Bart Crow Band, with special guests Brady Honeycutt and Madelyn Victoria. Gates open at 5 p.m. each evening.


Toby Beau
Rio Grande Valley native Bobby Silva will perform as Toby Beau at Louie’s Backyard every night from July 3-6. Toby Beau formed in the 1970s and is best known for the hit single “My Angel Baby” in 1978.

Stars & Stripes Free Concerts
Clayton’s Beach Bar is holding a Stars & Stripes event of its own on July 4-5, with free concerts both days. Friday features performers Costello and Eddie Saenz and on Saturday TR3N and Aaron Stephens will take the stage.

The Spazmatics
Known as the Ultimate Eighties Experience, the Spazmatics will perform at Clayton’s Beach Bar on Thursday, July 3 at 8 p.m. The group combines classic 80s hits with comedy in a an energetic and entertaining show.

Gary P. Nunn
Texas country music icon Gary P. Nunn returns to the Island for a Fourth of July Picnic Concert at Harpoon’s Surf Bar & Grill on Friday, July 4. The show starts at 8 p.m. with complimentary hamburgers and hot dogs.

Fireworks Extravaganzas
Famous for fireworks, South Padre Island skies will light up three nights in a row with colorful aerial displays over the holiday weekend. On Thursday and Friday nights, Fireworks over the Bay will be launched from a barge anchored in the Laguna Madre just offshore from Louie’s Backyard. On Friday and Saturday nights Fireworks on the Beach will be launched from the beach near Clayton’s Beach Bar.

Energy Saving Solutions USA (“ESS” or the “Company”), the creators of the LED with a lifetime guarantee™, today is proud to announce that the Company is preparing for the installation of its Forever LED Lights™ within the interior and exterior of Padre Island Brewing Company in South Padre Island, Texas to help reduce their carbon footprint, energy usage and overall operating costs.
Established in 1995, Padre Island Brewing Company is a restaurant and brewery that handcrafts original beers and serves American-style food to Padre Island locals and tourists alike. Open for lunch and dinner, Padre Island Brewing Company is located at 3400 Padre Boulevard in South Padre Island, Texas.
Following installation, President of Padre Island Brewing Company, Markkus Haggenmiller, will be able to save more than $5,000 per year which equates to savings of 67% or $256,000 over the useful lifetime of the state-of-the-art guaranteed for life, energy-efficient Forever LED Lights™.
Forever LED Lights™ are the only LEDs on the market offered exclusively through Energy Savings Solutions and its authorized national dealer organization. Forever LED Lights™ are protected by a lifetime guarantee exclusively administered by McCusker & Company and backed by Service USA, world class warranty and service providers out of Dallas, Texas.
“We are thrilled to assist Markkus Haggenmiller’s Padre Island Brewing Company in retrofitting their facility with our eco-friendly, exclusive and only FULL LINE of LEDs, the Forever LED Lights™, and in turn reducing its carbon footprint. The brewery is setting an exceptional example on energy efficiency within their community that we hope other businesses in the surrounding areas are eager and enthusiastic to follow. It’s not just about increasing efficiency and helping the environment, it’s about the result – real cost- and-energy savings that get put to better use within businesses across the country,” stated Peter Stein of Energy Saving Solutions.
The Company’s Forever Green Savings Program ™, which allows for a conversion to LEDs with no up-front costs and with payments based on a portion of their electrical savings, remains the most convenient, energy- and cost-saving lighting solution for businesses and municipalities in the market today.
About Energy Saving Solutions:
Energy Saving Solutions USA – the creators of the LED with a lifetime guarantee ™ – provides businesses, government agencies, schools and non-profit organizations energy-efficient LED and induction lighting technology that is designed to save money and help reduce the environmental impact by reducing carbon emissions. The Miami, Fla.-based company also offers organizations the Forever Green Savings Program ™ which allows for a conversion to LEDs with no up-front costs; payments are based on a portion of their electrical savings. More information can be found at http://www.EnergySavingIndustry.com.

All shuttle buses from the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport to South Padre Island are now free.
There are 17 departures leaving the Brownsville South Padre Island airport from 6:15 a.m. until 8 p.m. and 16 return trips from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.
All shuttles stop in Port Isabel where passengers transfer to South Padre Island’s WAVE, which is also free. The WAVE then takes riders to their destination on South Padre Island. The WAVE can also take passengers to popular areas of Port Isabel and Laguna Vista at no charge. This offers those vacationing on South Padre Island a little extra value with their stay on SPI.
Valley Metro, which has operated the Airport Shuttle since 2005 previously charge $1, but decided to offer the service at no charge.
Valley Metro’s Executive Director Tomas Logan said the service has been successful from day one, carrying more than 60,000 passengers last year.
“The tremendous ridership on this route continues to grow and now allows us to offer the service at no charge” Logan said.
Metro Connect, a shuttle service that covers the same route is also available at no charge. Metro Connect’s schedule is combined with Valley Metro’s on the Airport’s web site.
The cooperation of several local governments make this service possible including the cities of Brownsville, Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Laguna Vista, Harlingen, and McAllen as well as the Port of Brownsville and the Lower Rio Grande Development Council.
The complete schedule can be viewed online at flybrownsville.com/shuttle.