Far from the Final Frontier

Space Odyssey Adventure Presented by TCF Jan. 2020

This month will see the continuation of an 83-year-old tradition in the midst of adapting to the new, as organizers set phasers to stun.

The Texas Citrus Fiesta, held annually in the city of Mission, has three more events happening in January 2020: the Royal Reception, the Coronation of Queen Citrianna and King Citrus and the Parade of Oranges. This year, the theme Space Odyssey Adventure brings the spirit of the future and progression to an event that has stood the test of time.

The Texas citrus Fiesta 2019 Royal court during the January 2019 Parade of Oranges. Progress Times photo by Dee Rendon

Lisa Rivera, who has been director of the TCF for the last year, is excited about the new ventures being taken on by the organization and its transformation into a year-long endeavor.

“We’ve added things [along with the traditional events],” Rivera said. “We have our Vaquero Cook-Off, our fashion show, and we plan to add more events throughout the year.” 

In 2019 TCF also presented the first Veterans Day Parade in Mission with a goal to honor those who served.

Started by a group of citrus growers 83 years ago, the Texas Citrus Fiesta is run by dedicated organizers and volunteers who commit time and energy to making each iteration of TCF fresh and original.

“The growers wanted to celebrate the abundance of citrus we have in the Valley area,” Rivera said. “It’s been around for quite some time. We want to make it even better.”

In her first year, Rivera has encouraged the Royal Court to make bigger impacts in the area. Duchesses accepted the challenge, volunteering and caroling at senior care centers and doing community service with Driscoll Hospital and Comfort Home.

“They’re going to continue to have projects and attend events,” Rivera said. “We not only represent Mission. We’re housed in Mission, but we represent the Rio Grande Valley.”

Despite small bumps along the way, Rivera has greatly enjoyed her first year with TCF.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, putting together programs and festivals,” Rivera said. “I used to work for the city of Pharr, and I helped out with a lot of festivals there. I’ve always liked being part of that and reaching out to the public.”

Rivera noted the TCF’s new website (texascitrusfiesta.org) was redone in order to be simpler and more streamlined. She was grateful to the TCF Board, who she said have great ideas and a passion for making the event a success.

“We have a lot of new active board members with a lot of ideas,” Rivera said. “They have the energy and the motivation to work, so I’m very happy about them.”

Rivera considers TCF to be one of the most vital traditions in the community.

“That’s what we’re basically recognized by: our citrus,” Rivera said. “That’s our culture, our history, and that’s what we cultivate. It’s all involved together as one, so we can’t let go of that. We can modify things and grow, but we can’t change the main things.”

It’s not solely up to organizers to keep the practices and festivities going in TCF – residents and interested parties need to become involved themselves.

“We need more people to be part of our Product Costume Show,” Rivera said. “Come and learn about it.”

Rivera wants to encourage those interested in learning about Product Costume to go to their office at 220 E. 9th St., where organizers and volunteers can teach how it works.

“All they have to do is ask us,” Rivera said. “Our doors are open. Come and participate – participation is going to keep us going.”

The group liked the idea of a Space Odyssey Adventure, because the progressive themes evoked by the technology of interplanetary travel parallel the progression that TCF has made over 83 years.

“It’s about changes and new beginnings,” Rivera said. “We’re just taking it out of this world.”

The Royal Reception is taking place tomorrow, Jan. 11 at Balli’s Terrace Event Center (1509 Industrial Blvd. in Mission) at 7 p.m. Admission is $50 in order to meet and greet the new Royal Court, as well as dine and dance.

The Coronation of the King and Queen is happening Thurs. Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Mission High School Neuhaus Gym. General seating will cost $5, and reserved seating will cost $10.

The Parade of Oranges will take place Sat. Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. It will start South on Conway and run from 495 to 1st Street.

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