It’s been in the works for six years now, and Cameron County leaders are celebrating a big step forward in the construction of the second causeway to South Padre Island. Cameron County administrator Pete Sepulveda calls it a major milestone.
The required final study on how construction of the second causeway will impact the environment has been submitted to federal authorities for review. Sepulveda said the environmental impact study has been in the works since 2012.
The second causeway would span 8 miles over the Laguna Madre, starting at the intersection of Farm to Market (FM) 510 and Buena Vista boulevard.
The plans are designed to have the most minimal impact to the wildlife and vegetation around the Laguna Madre, and Sepulveda said the county will also add more seagrass to those areas impacted by construction.
It’s up to the federal highway administration and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to authorize the project. Sepulveda says the 700 million dollar project has been getting a lot of support from the State of Texas.
Once the plan is approved, the county will seek bids to select a developer. They hope to begin construction by the summer of 2017 and have it finished three years later.
A PROCUREMENT CONTRACT FOR A FOURTH AIRCRAFT CARRIER — THE DECOMMISSIONED USS RANGER — HAS BEEN AWARDED TO A BROWNSVILLE SHIP RECYCLER.
THE U.S. NAVY ANNOUNCED THE CONTRACT WITH INTERNATIONAL SHIPBREAKING LTD. ON DEC. 22. THE COMPANY WILL PAY ONE CENT FOR THE VESSEL, THE LOWEST PRICE THE NAVY COULD HAVE PAID FOR THE SHIP TO BE TOWED AND DISMANTLED. INTERNATIONAL SHIPBREAKING WILL MAKE ITS MONEY BACK FROM THE SALE OF SCRAP METAL AS THE SHIP IS DISMANTLED. THIS IS THE SECOND AIRCRAFT CARRIER CONTRACT AWARDED TO THE COMPANY, WHICH EXPECTS TO TAKE DELIVERY OF THE USS CONSTELLATION IN JANUARY. THE RANGER WILL BE TOWED TO THE PORT OF BROWNSVILLE FROM THE NAVY’S INACTIVE SHIPS MAINTENANCE FACILITY IN BREMERTON, WASH.
THE SHIP IS EXPECTED TO DEPART BREMERTON VIA TOW IN JANUARY OR FEBRUARY AND ARRIVE IN BROWNSVILLE AFTER FOUR TO FIVE MONTHS. LIKE THE CONSTELLATION, WHICH IS ALSO BEING BROUGHT FROM BREMERTON, THE RANGER IS TOO BIG TO PASS THROUGH THE PANAMA CANAL AND MUST BE TOWED AROUND SOUTH AMERICA.
THE USS RANGER WAS THE THIRD FORRESTAL-CLASS CARRIER TO BE BUILT (AND THE FORRESTAL ITSELF ARRIVED AT ALL STAR METALS IN FEBRUARY FOR DISMANTLING). THE SECOND SHIP OF THE CLASS, THE USS SARATOGA, ARRIVED AT ESCO MARINE IN SEPTEMBER. THE FOURTH FORRESTAL-CLASS CARRIER, THE USS INDEPENDENCE, WAS DECOMMISSIONED IN 1998 AND IS ALSO DESIGNATED FOR DISMANTLING.
THE RANGER WAS BUILT AT THE NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING & DRYDOCK CO. IN THE MID-1950S AND COMMISSIONED IN 1957 AT THE NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD. IT WAS THE ONLY SHIP OF ITS CLASS TO SPEND ITS ENTIRE CAREER IN THE PACIFIC. THE SHIP MADE A TOTAL OF 22 WESTERN PACIFIC DEPLOYMENTS, WAS AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN THE VIETNAM WAR, AND WAS THE ONLY WEST COAST-BASED CARRIER TO DEPLOY IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION DESERT STORM. THE RANGER WAS DECOMMISSIONED IN 1993 AFTER MORE THAN 35 YEARS OF SERVICE.
SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES — SPACEX — HAS REACHED THE FIRST MILESTONE IN ITS QUEST TO LAUNCH CREWS TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION FROM U.S. SOIL, THROUGH A COMMERCIAL CREW TRANSPORTATION CAPABILITY CONTRACT WITH NASA.
THE SPACE AGENCY ANNOUNCED DEC. 19 THAT IT HAD APPROVED THE MILESTONE, WHICH BASICALLY ENTAILED SPACEX DESCRIBING TO NASA ITS “CURRENT DESIGN BASELINE,” INCLUDING HOW THE COMPANY’S CREW DRAGON SPACECRAFT AND FALCON 9 V1.1 ROCKET WILL BE MANUFACTURED, LAUNCHED, LANDED AND THE CREW RECOVERED.
THE 9 V1.1 IS THE SECOND VERSION OF THE COMPANY’S ROCKET-PROPELLED SPACEFLIGHT LAUNCH SYSTEM.
ALSO DURING WHAT’S CALLED THE “CERTIFICATION BASELINE REVIEW,” SPACEX OUTLINED HOW IT PLANS TO WIN NASA CERTIFICATION OF ITS SYSTEM TO FERRY CREWS TO AND FROM THE ISS. KATHY LUEDERS, MANAGER OF THE AGENCY’S COMMERCIAL CREW PROGRAM, SAID THE MILESTONE “SETS THE PACE FOR RIGOROUS WORK AHEAD.”
ON SEPT. 16, THE AGENCY ANNOUNCED IT HAD CHOSEN SPACEX AND BOEING TO TRANSPORT CREWS BETWEEN EARTH AND THE ISS WITH THE CREW DRAGON AND CST-100 SPACECRAFT, RESPECTIVELY. THE AIM OF THESE CONTRACTS IS TO END THE UNITED STATES’ RELIANCE ON RUSSIA FOR GETTING CREWS TO THE ISS AND ALSO INCREASE THE SIZE OF THE ISS CREW, WHICH WILL ENABLE MORE RESEARCH ABOARD THE SPACE STATION’S MICROGRAVITY LABORATORY.
ON SEPT. 22 AT BOCA CHICA BEACH EAST OF BROWNSVILLE, SPACEX BROKE GROUND ON THE WORLD’S FIRST COMMERCIAL ORBITAL SPACE PORT. ELON MUSK, THE COMPANY’S CEO AND CHIEF DESIGNER, SAID DURING THE EVENT THAT THE FACILITY WOULD LIKELY TAKE NINE MONTHS TO COMPLETE AND THAT THE FIRST LAUNCH COULD TAKE PLACE AS SOON AS LATE 2016.
SPACEX IS HEADQUARTERED IN HAWTHORNE, CALIF., AND HAS A ROCKET ENGINE DEVELOPMENT FACILITY IN MCGREGOR, TEXAS.
MUSK’S LONG-TERM GOAL IS NOT JUST TO FLY HUMANS TO MARS BUT TO ACTUALLY INHABIT THE RED PLANET. AND WHILE SPACEX’S CURRENT MANNED SPACEFLIGHT EFFORTS ARE BASED AT THE KENNEDYSPACECENTER, AND MANNED LAUNCHES AREN’T SCHEDULED FOR THE BOCA CHICA SITE AT THIS POINT, MUSK HINTED AT THE GROUNDBREAKING THAT ASTRONAUTS MAY SOMEDAY BE SENT INTO SPACE FROM BROWNSVILLE.
“IT COULD VERY WELL BE THAT THE FIRST PERSON THAT DEPARTS FOR ANOTHER PLANET COULD DEPART FROM THIS LOCATION,” HE SAID.
WINE & SHOPPING IN PORT ISABEL
THE PORT ISABEL LIGHTHOUSE SQUARE MERCHANTS WILL HOST THE HOLIDAY WINE TASTING, A SPECIAL SHOPPING EVENT THAT INCLUDES A COMPLIMENTARY WINE TASTING ON FRIDAY, DEC. 19 FROM 3-7 P.M. LIGHTHOUSE SQUARE BOASTS A VARIETY OF UNIQUE SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS IN A RELAXING ATMOSPHERE, AND VISITORS ARE INVITED TO ENJOY SPECIAL OFFERS AND REFRESHMENTS AT PARTICIPATING MERCHANTS.
ON SUNDAY, DEC. 21 FROM 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M., THE PORT ISABEL ANTIQUE & FLEA MARKET WILL OPEN AT BEULAH LEE PARK ON HIGHWAY 100. DOZENS OF DEALERS AND THOUSANDS OF DEALS CAN BE FOUND AT THE MARKET THAT OPENS THE FIRST AND THIRD SUNDAY OF EACH MONTH THROUGH FEBRUARY.
MEET THE AUTHOR
PARAGRAPHS BOOKSTORE WILL HOST AUTHOR DON CLIFFORD AS PART OF ITS MEET THE AUTHOR SERIES ON SATURDAY, DEC. 20 FROM 1-3 P.M. “SQUEAKY, THE LITTLEST ANGEL” IS CLIFFORD’S THIRD PUBLISHED WORK OF FICTION. “BEN SOLOMON IN DESTINY DIVERTED,” AN ACTION ADVENTURE NOVEL WAS FIRST, AND “ZOO NONSENSE,” A ZANY BOOK OF RHYMES ABOUT CRITTERS FOUND AT THE ZOO WAS SECOND. THE EVENT IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC.
HOLIDAY BENEFIT CONCERT
AREA MUSICIAN BRETT MARSHALL WILL PERFORM WITH FIVE VOCALISTS FOR A CHRISTMAS THEMED CONCERT TO BENEFIT LAURIN HUBER, A ONCE-PROMISING DANCER SEVERELY INJURED IN A 1980 AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT. “CHRISTMAS LOOKING BACK” WILL RAISE MONEY FOR LAURIN’S CONTINUING MEDICAL EXPENSES. THE CONCERT WILL TAKE THE AUDIENCE BACK TO THE 1940S DURING WORLD WAR II, WITH SOME FUN RENDITIONS OF CHRISTMAS FAVORITES. MARSHALL, ALONG WITH VOCALISTS CAROLYN PORTER, LISA KINSOLVING, RON FUQUA, PAUL CARDILE AND DALE ZIEGLER, WILL PERFORM TWO SHOWS ON SUNDAY, DEC. 21 AT 4 P.M. AND 7 P.M. AT THE CHAPEL BY THE SEA ON SOUTH PADRE ISLAND. TICKETS ARE $8 AND AVAILABLE AT PARAGRAPHS BOOKSTORE.
LIVE NATIVITY IN WILLACY
IN WILLACY COUNTY THIS WEEKEND, THE GRACE HERITAGE RANCH WILL HOST A MUSICAL LIVE NATIVITY ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, DEC. 20-21 FROM 4-5 P.M. THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS WILL BE TOLD IN PERFORMANCE AND TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROLS. DONKEYS, GOATS, SHEEP, CATTLE AND MORE WILL BE PART OF THE OUTDOOR EVENT. COOKIES, COFFEE AND COCOA WILL BE SERVED. THE MUSICAL LIVE NATIVITY IS A FREE PRESENTATION WITH DONATIONS ENCOURAGED TO BENEFIT THE CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION. THE RANCH IS LOCATED AT 27539 OLD ALICE ROAD IN SANTA MONICA. CALL 956-230-6902 FOR INFORMATION AND DIRECTIONS.
2015 IS ALMOST HERE
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND HAS A LONG TRADITION OF CELEBRATING NEW YEAR’S EVE WITH PARTIES AND FIREWORKS, AND CHILLY DIPS IN THE GULF OF MEXICO ON JAN. 1. KNOWN AS THE FIREWORKS CAPITAL OF TEXAS, THE ISLAND WILL HOST TWO BIG FIREWORKS SHOWS TO RING IN THE NEW YEAR. FIREWORKS OVER THE BAY WILL BE LAUNCHED AT MIDNIGHT FROM A BARGE ANCHORED JUST OFF LOUIE’S BACKYARD. FIREWORKS ON THE BEACH ARE SPONSORED BY THE HILTON GARDEN INN, LA QUINTA AND CLAYTON’S BEACH BAR AND WILL BE LAUNCHED AT MIDNIGHT FROM THE BEACH NEXT TO THESE BUSINESSES.
ONE WAY TO SHAKE OFF THE NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTIES IS TO TAKE A DIP IN THE GULF OF MEXICO.
HUNDREDS OF HEARTY SOULS TYPICALLY TURN OUT FOR THE POLAR BEAR DIP AT CLAYTON’S BEACH BAR. REGISTRATION OPENS AT 10 A.M. AND THE DIP STARTS AT NOON.
BOOMERANG BILLY’S IS THE SITE OF THE PENGUIN PLUNGE. CELEBRATE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL IDIOTS CLUB AND WADDLE YOUR WAY INTO THE WATER AT 2 P.M. ISLAND FAVORITE LESLIE BLASING WILL PERFORM.
Go to register for 2015 causeway run, walk The morning started out foggy but as runners crossed the finish line the skies began to clear, giving way to great weather for running and walking. That was the scene at last year’s Longest Causeway Run & Fitness Walk, which attracted nearly 4,800 participants. And now it’s time to get your running shoes ready and sign up for the 31th Annual Longest Causeway Run & Fitness Walk on Saturday, Jan. 10. The race and walk is sponsored by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce and registration is under way. Runners will start at the Port Isabel Community Center, wind their way through town and onto the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge to cross the Laguna Madre and sprint to the finish line at Louie’s Backyard. The fitness walk also starts at the community center and crosses the causeway, ending at the Padre Balli statue on the Island. Shuttle service will be available to Louie’s, where the after-race party and awards ceremony will be held. While the run is USA Track and field certified, the fitness walk is a participation event only. The overall male and female winners of the 10K run will receive $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place. Visit portisabelchamber.com or call 956-943-2262 for more information and to register.
THE SHRIMPING INDUSTRY’S IMPACT ON KEMP’S RIDLEY SEA TURTLES IS AT AN ALL-TIME LOW, ACCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY BY FISHERIES MANAGEMENT EXPERT BENNY GALLAWAY, ONE OF THE PRESENTERS AT THE INTERNATIONAL KEMP’S RIDLEY SEA TURTLE SYMPOSIUM THAT TOOK PLACE IN BROWNSVILLE NOV. 18-19.
AT THE SAME TIME, THE NUMBER OF TURTLES DYING DUE TO RUN-INS WITH SHRIMPING VESSELS HAS RISEN — BUT ONLY BECAUSE THERE ARE MORE KEMP’S RIDLEY OUT THERE THAN IN THE PAST, HE SAID IN AN INTERVIEW DURING THE SYMPOSIUM. “THE POPULATION IS HUGE COMPARED TO WHAT IT WAS,” SAID GALLAWAY, PRESIDENT OF LGL ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATES INC. “THERE ARE MORE OF THEM — A LOT MORE.”
THE REBOUND IN POPULATION WAS DUE TO HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL CONSERVATION EFFORTS TO SAVE THE SPECIES, INCLUDING A FEDERAL MANDATE THAT TURTLE EXCLUDER DEVICES (TEDS) BE INSTALLED ON SHRIMP TRAWLERS. ALSO, THE GULF SHRIMP FLEET HAS SHRUNK. THE BAD NEWS IS THAT THE KEMP’S RIDLEY NESTING IS ONCE AGAIN IN SHARP DECLINE, FOR REASONS RESEARCHERS ARE STILL PUZZLING OVER. THIS DECLINE, WHICH BEGAN AFTER THE DEEPWATERHORIZONGULF OIL SPILL IN 2010, WAS THE FOCUS OF THE SYMPOSIUM. AMID ALL THE BAD NEWS AT THE GATHERING, GALLAWAY, WHOSE STUDY EXAMINED ALL THE POSSIBLE REASONS BEHIND THE DECLINE, AT LEAST HAD GOOD NEWS FOR THE SHRIMPING INDUSTRY: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
ANDREA HANCE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TEXAS SHRIMP ASSOCIATION, SAID IT’S A FACT OFTEN AT ODDS WITH A PUBLIC PERCEPTION THAT HISTORICALLY EQUATES SHRIMPING WITH DEAD SEA TURTLES. THE PERCEPTION WAS JUSTIFIED ONCE, BUT NOT SINCE TEDS BECAME MANDATORY, SHE SAID. “WERE SHRIMPERS KILLING TURTLES BEFORE TEDS? YES. THE PROBLEM IS PEOPLE HAVEN’T HEARD THE NEW INFORMATION,” HANCE SAID. “EVERYTHING IS 15 YEARS AGO. THERE’S A BIG MISCONCEPTION, WHICH IS ONE OF THE HURDLES THAT I’M TRYING TO OVERCOME. WE’VE HAD THESE NUMBERS FOR A WHILE. WE JUST DON’T REALLY HAVE THE AVENUES OR THE VOICE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW.”
GARY GRAHAM, TEXAS SEA GRANT’S MARINE FISHERIES SPECIALIST, SAID THE KEMP’S RIDLEY’S COMEBACK WAS THANKS IN LARGE PART TO TEDS BUT ALSO TO CONSERVATION EFFORTS TO PROTECT THE GULF BEACHES IN THE MEXICAN STATE OF TAMAULIPAS THAT ARE THE SPECIES’ PRINCIPAL NESTING GROUND. “THEY GO HAND IN HAND,” HE SAID.
THE LAGUNA ATASCOSA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE WILL CONDUCT WILDLIFE PROGRAM TOURS STARTING IN JANUARY AND RUNNING THROUGH MARCH. TOURS ON THE SCENIC BAYSIDE DRIVE WILL TAKE PLACE THURSDAYS, FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS FROM 9 A.M. TO NOON AND FROM 1 TO 4 P.M. THE REFUGE WILL BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC ON CHRISTMAS DAY.
THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO TAKE PART IN THE TOURS OF WILDLIFE HABITATS INCLUDING THORN SCRUB, FOREST, COASTAL PRAIRIE, WETLANDS AND SCENIC LAGUNA MADRE IN AN OPEN AIR TRAM. ACCORDING TO WILDLIFE OFFICIALS, VISITORS WILL LEARN THE HISTORY OF THE REFUGE BOTH NATURAL AND CULTURAL, AND SEE HOW THE LANDS ARE MANAGED. DURING THE TOUR SPECTATORS ARE ENCOURAGED TO BRING BINOCULARS. THERE WILL BE TWO TO THREE STOPS WITH SHORT OPTIONAL WALKS.
BIRDING TOURS WILL TAKE PLACE THURSDAY THROUGH MONDAY FROM 8:30 A.M. TO NOON AND FRIDAY FROM 1 TO 4:30 P.M. EXPERIENCED BIRDERS WILL TAKE SPECTATORS IN A VAN TO THE REFUGE’S BIRDING HOT SPOTS WHERE PRIVATE VEHICLES ARE NOT ALLOWED. THE TOURS ALTERNATE BETWEEN THE LAGUNA ATASCOSA AND BAHIA GRANDE AREAS.
TICKETS FOR THE BAYSIDE TOUR AND DRIVING BIRD TOURS ARE $4 FOR ADULTS, $3 FOR SENIORS AGE 62 AND OLDER, CHILDREN UNDER 16 ARE FREE. TICKETS CAN ONLY BE PURCHASED BY CASH OR CHECK AND ARE SOLD THE DAY OF THE TOUR.
FREE BIRDING WALKS WILL BE OFFERED SATURDAY, SUNDAY AND MONDAY FROM 2 P.M. TO 3 P.M. TOUR GUIDES WILL TAKE SPECTATORS FOR A SHORT WALK AROUND THE VISITOR’S CENTER. GUEST SPEAKER ESTEBAN BRAVO WILL DISCUSS THE HUMAN AND WILDLIFE USES OF THE NATIVE PLANTS OF SOUTH TEXAS AS DESCRIBED IN HIS NEW BOOK “INCREDIBLE EDIBLES,” JAN. 24 FROM 2 P.M. TO 3 P.M.
THE PRESENTATION IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC. FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 956-748-3609 EXT 111.
THE LONE STAR STATE’S HOUSING INDUSTRY OF 2014 WAS A TRIUMPH FOR HOME SALES, ACCORDING TO THE 2014 TEXAS ANNUAL HOUSING REPORT RELEASED TODAY BY THE TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (TAR).
ACCORDING TO THE REPORT, A GREAT DEAL OF THE SUCCESS CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO PEOPLE FLOCKING INTO THE STATE: TEXAS RECEIVES MORE OUT-OF-STATE RESIDENTS THAN ANY OTHER STATE–MORE THAN 584,000 PEOPLE MOVED TO TEXAS FROM OUT OF STATE IN 2013–AND IT IS ALSO A LEADING IN HOME SALES FROM INTERNATIONAL BUYERS, WITH $11 BILLION IN HOME PURCHASES FROM PEOPLE COMING FROM OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES. SALES GROWTH HAS BEEN TRACKED ON ALL TYPES OF PROPERTIES, RANGING FROM MODEST RANCHETTES TO SPRAWLING LUXURY HOMES, WHILE A LOW HOUSING INVENTORY LEVEL HELPED SPUR CONDOMINIUM AND TOWN HOME SALES TO BECOME THE FASTEST-GROWING SEGMENT OF THE LOCAL HOUSING MARKET.
“IT’S A GREAT TIME TO LIVE IN TEXAS,” SAID DAN HATFIELD, CHAIRMAN OF THE TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. “THE HIGH DEMAND FOR TEXAS REAL ESTATE IS NOT BEING FUELED BY SPECULATION AND INVESTMENT ACTIVITY–IT’S DRIVEN BY THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO MOVE TO THE LONE STAR STATE DAILY. PEOPLE ARE MOVING TO TEXAS FROM ACROSS AMERICA AND AROUND THE WORLD TO TAKE PART IN OUR STATE’S BOOMING ECONOMY, BUSINESS-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT AND QUALITY OF LIFE.”
HATFIELD PREDICTED THAT 2015 WILL SEE A REPRISE OF THIS YEAR’S VIBRANCY.
“THE TEXAS HOUSING MARKET WILL LIKELY CONTINUE TO BE HIGHLY COMPETITIVE IN 2015, BUT RISING HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AND INVENTORY LEVELS AS WELL AS GREATER ACCESS TO HOMEBUYER EDUCATION PROGRAMS LIKE THOSE PROMOTED THROUGH ‘GET READY TEXAS’ WILL HELP MAKE THE DREAM OF HOMEOWNERSHIP ATTAINABLE FOR ALL TEXANS,” HATFIELD, SAID. “THIS HAS BEEN A GLOWING YEAR FOR TEXAS REAL ESTATE, AND 2015 IS ON-PACE TO BE JUST AS BRIGHT.”
Sea Turtle Inc., the nonprofit marine turtle rescue and rehabilitation center on South Padre Island, released 65 turtles that were previously suffering from cold-snap, a form of turtle hypothermia, at Isla Blanca Park on Nov. 24 and 25. The release process occurred over two days because of the sheer number of turtles rescued by the shore due to the cold front. When they were brought in earlier in the month, 11 were held at the costal studies lab before being picked up to be put into a garage. Following the warmth rehabilitation process, the organization waited for a break from the chilly weather for temperatures to be consistently warm enough for an effective release, loaded the rejuvenated marine reptiles into vehicles and caution tape was put up in the area prior to their arrival to the shore. The rescued turtles were tagged before release to record a history of rescue in case they are ever found beached again. “We walked them out into the surf about waist high and then let them go right by the jetties,” said Megan Chilcutt, Marketing and Public Relations
for Sea Turtle Inc. “That way they could choose to swim back into the bay or go offshore and start migrating south. They were all ready to go after warming up but we just had to split up their release over a couple days because there were so many.” The need for rescue is a regular occurrence when the temperatures drop drastically in a short amount time and turtles don’t have enough time to leave the shallow water before succumbing to the cold. Over the course of a few days, they are warmed with heaters before being put in a
water tank. Once they show signs of acting as they normally do in the wild, they can be scheduled for a release. Release dates are schedule year round and the public is invited to witness their return back into the ocean.
Holiday boat parade will illuminate Laguna Madre
As the holiday season starts and Christmas lights go up and communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley host holiday parades, there is only one place to see boats decked out in extravagant lighting schemes in a parade that navigates the Laguna Madre from Port Isabel to South Padre Island. This year will be the 27th Lighted Boat Parade hosted by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce. It’s a floating festival of lights as captains of boats large and small will outfit their vessels with colorful holiday decorations for the parade on Saturday, Dec. 6.
All manner of boats, from sailing yachts to pontoon boats, will light up the Laguna Madre, and some crews will be in costume and parade watchers migh event be able to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus.
Last year the tradition of the Lighted Boat Parade was put on hold as foul weather forced the flotilla’s cancellation. Although there is a chance of scattered showers this weekend, Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Betty Wells said the parade will return this year. “It’s going to happen as scheduled,” she said. “Historically captains wait until the last minute to register but we’re expected between 10 and 15 boats.” The parade route has changed a bit this year due to silting in some of the channels in Port Isabel. “We just can’t get some of the bigger boats into the Fingers area,” Wells said.
The 6 p.m. parade start will be held at South Point Marina in Port Isabel, pass by Long Island Village into the Laguna Madre, where it will pass in front of Pirates Landing and around toward Anchor Marina before turning around to cross the bay. The decorated boats will navigate the Laguna Madre north of the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge, turning into Tompkins Channel and along the Island to Louie’s Backyard. After the parade, which usually ends between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., an awards ceremony will be held at Louie’s.
Trophies and prizes will be awarded to the top three winners in each of six divisions: commercial boats; small power boats 18 feet and under; medium power boats 19 to 29 feet; large power boats 30 feet and over; sailboats 25 feet and under; and sailboats 26 feet and over. Vessels are judged on first impression, theme, special effects, numbers of lights and animated characters.