Monday, January 28, 2013

76th Annual Texas Citrus Festival

Shortly after we had arrived here in December I had seen advertisement regarding this festival, and already determined back then that we would it attend it.  It is a big deal down here, almost like the Tournament of Roses in California.  The festival celebrates what Rio Grande Texans are very proud of;  their groves of oranges, lemons and grapefruits famous for their rose colored flesh and sweet taste.  The activities for the festival begin a couple of weeks before, with a Product Costume Show and Royal Reception.  A week later is the Royal Coronation of King Citrus and Queen Citrianna.  The latter event is the first place where the 2013 Royal Court and the duchesses competing for a place on the court are introduced, wearing their regalia.  The duchesses represent a Valley product, and must wear a ball gown the color of that product.  The Duchess of the Ruby Red Grapefruit is pictured below.  With her is her assigned page.
All of the duchesses rode in the Parade of Oranges, which we attended Saturday afternoon.  The Royal Court, pictured below, was the first float in the parade.  Other members of the court include heralds, train bearers as well as crown bearers.  There are also princesses, who range in age from 6 years to college age students.  The duchesses are of high school age.  It is quite the social event for everyone involved.
While we were observing the parade a lady came and stood next to us, camera in hand.  She explained that she wanted to get a good picture of her daughter who was Duchess of Palm.  She had been a princess 10 years ago and, according to her mom, it was her time to be in the festival again.  Her daughter successfully applied to be a duchess.  The gown she wore was quite beautiful, it had to be specially designed and cost $3,000.00.  The Duchess of Palm is pictured below.
 "Kaleidoscope of World Cultures" was the theme of the 2013 Texas Citrus Festival.  The Rio Grande Valley is a melting pot of culture, as evidenced by the many floats representing countries from around the world, as Germany, China, and Italy, to name but a few of those entries.  Pictured below is a colorful float which depicted the theme of  world cultures.
There were also floats representing various Texas cities, schools of the valley, as well as the Texas winter recreational vehicle parks.  Many of those parks had their own chosen kings and queens.   High school and mariachi bands, as well a variety of dancing groups, kept the momentum of the fun going with their rousing mixture of marches and Tejano music.  It was a good parade, complete with over 80 floats. We came two hours early, just to get a good spot from which we could see it all.  We had heard that the festivities bring in over 100,000 people annually, however we did not feel the crush of people which we have encountered at other parades in the past.  Most importantly the weather was perfect, with a warm sun and a cool breeze.

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