By CARLOS CANAS
Special to the NEWS
The topic of my letter today is one concerning the topic of volunteering for community service. As I visited the city of Hidalgo this past week and viewed the millions of lights placed around the city, I was taken aback by the scope and size of the project that surely must have involved many dozens of people.
Looking at this major undertaking I also thought about the city of Branson, Missouri. This small town has but as few thousand permanent residents but yet each year they play host to millions of visitors. In each case I believe that it is the team effort put forth by the citizens of each of these cities that makes their towns so prosperous and successful. As I look at our city I have a vision of us working together to make this town a tourist destination. The main idea is how do we package our city so that people have a reason to visit and how do we go about reaching out to the tens of thousands of Winter Texans who visit our Valley each year. In my dealings with these fine folks I have found that they come here to relax, to go out and eat, and to be entertained. It is my opinion that with our museums and restaurants we could put together an itinerary for visitors to follow when they visit. Packaging dinner and entertainment (museums and concerts) could work as a one day visit for these folks. As for the community volunteering and what we as citizens could do to make this town nicer I would suggest that families, churches, and civic organizations choose local businesses, parks, and streets that they could help beautify. One such project that I have undertaken is the Stonewall Jackson Restaurant and Hotel. I believe that this historical treasure could be an anchor for tourism much like the museums located across the street are. This is a real piece of living history and as such I think we should be trying to support this endeavor. Another location worthy of mention is Oakhills Event Center. This home has been around for many years and the work that the owners have put into it is vast. The Valley has few outdoor patio bars like this and if you have not been out to visit I would invite to go by. Another historical site is Robertson Street and La Villita in particular could do with more publicity. This dance hall is steeped in a rich cultural tradition of Conjunto music so why not capitalize on that. Imagine various musical concerts staged throughout the city on the same day; in the Stonewall Jackson some oldies music, in La Villita a conjunto or trio or 50’s rock and roll bands, at the Heavin Amphitheater some mariachis, at the community building some classical guitars and the Museums of San Benito opened with special exhibits.
Combine all of this with a brochure of all the restaurants in town and specials offered for that day and we could have a really special event for all of the state to talk about. No one said that Austin has to be the only live music capital of the state; we could give them a run for their money with the right planning and community volunteers.