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4th of July Beach Parade enjoys record turnout

By PAMELA CODY

Special to the PRESS

Waving American flags and wearing patriotic clothing, more than 200 people gathered on 4th of July morning on the beach at South Padre Island to participate in this year’s annual South Padre Island 4th of July Beach Parade. Adults and children of all ages, along with a variety of 4-legged friends, walked, strolled and rolled from Beach Access #22 to BEach Access #17 to celebrate Independence Day.

The event, headed by South Padre Island Parks & Recreation Manager Mary Kay Hancock, was a tremendous success, thanks to support from organizer Debbie Huffman and scores of volunteers. Observing the festive crowd shortly before the parade began, Hancock commented on the fun, family-oriented event. “We’re so glad everyone’s here. It’s a great crowd and I’m so happy everybody came out on this beautiful day.”

She praised community members, ranging from high-school students to senior citizens, who donated their time to the event. She gestured toward the crowd, saying, “With all these people volunteering, it’s a great start to the 4th.”

Also on hand for the parade was Mayor Barry Patel, dressed in a festive flag-themed shirt and straw hat, who, accompanied by his wife, walked the parade route. He gave a big smile when asked how he was enjoying his first Independence Day Parade as mayor. “I’m happy to be here. I want to wish everybody a Happy 4th and come on down for some family fun. The water’s clear and the weather’s great!” he exclaimed.

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Allegiant Air begins flights to Las Vegas

BY STEVE CLARK STAFF WRITER

Just in case anyone had trouble remembering where Allegiant Air flies to, a Las Vegas showgirl in full regalia — on hand for Thursday’s inaugural-flight ceremony at the Brownsville South Padre Island International — served as a glittering, statuesque reminder.

Showgirl Jennifer Johnson posed for photos with many of those in attendance well after the official remarks had been made.

In addition to airport officials, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, City Manager Charlie Cabler , Brownsville Commissioner-at-Large Cesar de Leon and South Padre Island Mayor Barry Patel were among the dignitaries gathered to celebrate the launch of Allegiant’s nonstop passenger service between Brownsville and Las Vegas .

The first flight was scheduled to depart at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. Las Vegas-based Allegiant announced in February that it was bringing service to Brownsville .

Flights will take place twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays.

Martinez said Allegiant’s presence in the city is “good for Brownsville .”

“I think Brownsville is in as good a place as it’s been in some period of time,” he said. “It’s not because of me, it’s because of what we were able to put together with a lot of people working together, knowing that we can get things done.”

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Cultures intertwine at Indian festival

KRISTIAN HERNANDEZ | STAFF WRITER

McALLEN — More than 300 people attended the Enchanting India Festival on Sunday as part of the International Museum of Arts and Science’s cultural series aimed at educating and highlighting the different traditions found in the Rio Grande Valley.

Those who attended the festival enjoyed traditional dancing, art, food and other cultural activities from the South Asian country.

“The Indian culture is one of the oldest cultures in the world,” said Hari Namboodiri, president of the India Association of the Rio Grande Valley. “This is a great way for us to showcase the colors, smells and sounds of our beautiful heritage.”

Namboodiri said they’ve always done festivals like this but this is the second year they teamed up with IMAS to open it up to a larger audience. The association began with about 12 families of Indian descent in the early 1990s and now has more than 700 families from Laredo to Brownsville.

At the event, Uma Puri, of Edinburg, welcomed women and girls of all ages to try on the customary saree, a 5-meter-long cloth that is wrapped around the body to form a dress.

A saree can cost anywhere from $150 to $2,000 depending on the thread and jewels used to adorn the dress. Next to the sarees, men could try on a traditional turban hat worn by men in India and throughout the Middle East.

Samantha Carrizal, 17, and her mother Diana Gonzalez, 47, both stood in line to have their picture taken wearing elaborate silk sarees. They trace their roots to the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi but said they love attending events hosted by the Indian society and drawing those connections between both cultures.

“Here you get to really experience the culture and realize that the food is similar to ours and the family values are much like ours,” said Gonzalez, a nurse from Pharr. “We have been attending their events for years and they are very receptive of our culture, it is really nice to see that.”

South Padre Island Mayor Bharat “Barry” Patel, the first Indian mayor in Texas after being elected in November, also attended the event.

“I feel like this is a time where there is a fusion of the cultures in the Rio Grande Valley,” Patel said. “We are seeing people from all over the world actually, but many families are from India.”

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SPI approves rental property charges

By FERNANDO DEL VALLE Staff Writer

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — After weeks of opposition from some property owners, City Council members Wednesday took the first step to crack down on rental property owners who fail to pay as much as $300,000 a year in hotel occupancy taxes.

In a meeting, council members unanimously passed the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would charge $50 to register individual rental property units. Owners would face a fine of $500 a day for violations.

“Not everybody completely agrees with everything but I think we’ve come an awful long way,” Councilman Dennis Stahl, who pushed for the proposed ordinance, told a group of rental property representatives.

Stahl said officials agreed not to charge $50 registration fees to rental property owners who pay hotel occupancy taxes.

Officials found that owners of about 1,000 units do not pay hotel occupancy taxes, which add up to an annual loss of as much as about $300,000 here.

“It’s not punitive,” Mayor Barry Patel told the group. “This is a very vital industry for South Padre Island. This is to get better compliance, which we’ve been struggling for many years.”

The ordinance would require properties that rent for less than 30 days to register each unit, listing ownership information. The ordinance would also require that properties designate representatives to handle any complaints, making them available 24 hours a day, within distances of one-hour drives.

Violators would face daily fines of as much as $500.

Terri Galloway, general manager of Suntide II Resort Condominiums, told council members that the proposed registration process, including the collection of property owners’ information, would take long hours and hard work.

“This is a whole lot of extra work for anyone in the rental businesses,” Galloway told council members.

Galloway said Mexican property owners rent their units to friends and family in Mexico, leaving city officials with “no detail, no history” of records.

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OCTOBER 24 – Final Meet & Greet at Sea Ranch!

The Third and Final Meet & Greet for the Barry Patel Campaign will be held Thursday, October 24, 2013 at Sea Ranch Restaurant. While Barry will be accessible before and after this event, this Meet & Greet is a great opportunity to voice your concerns to Barry, all while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres and refreshments! See you there!

 

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OCTOBER 10 – Join us for our 2nd Meet & Greet!

Join us at Clayton’s Beach Bar for our second Meet & Greet event, where you can meet candidate Barry Patel. Don’t hesitate to ask Barry anything you’d like about his view on and vision for South Padre Island! The event kicks of on Thursday, October 10th at 5:30 pm and goes on with free hors d’oeuvres and refreshments until 8:00pm.

Barry Patel South Padre Island City Council Candidate