The city of Palmhurst kicked off its 11th Annual National Night Out in the brisk fall weather Tuesday evening at the Church of Christ located on Mile 3 Road.
The day began with lower temperatures as a northern front blew thru the Rio Grande Valley. But not even the rain could keep the community from coming out to show their support.
When asked earlier in the day if the event was still on, City Manager Lori Lopez replied, “rain or shine, we are ready.”
National Night Out (NNO) allows the community an opportunity to meet and engage with local law enforcement, get free school supplies along with other free items from local school districts and vendors, and enjoy some good old-fashioned family fun. This event has grown over the years and citizens of Palmhurst along with nearby residents look forward to this event year after year.
As you drove up to the NNO you were greeted by U.S.A. flags and a parade of law enforcement vehicles representing Hidalgo County parked up along the frontage of Mile 3 Road. Everywhere you looked you could see someone in uniform, along with many forms of entertainment for the families, such as swings, rock climbing stations, inflatable slides, and many more.
Sisters Dulce Muniz of Edinburg and Jennifer Cantu of Mission waited alongside one of these theme park rides as their children Regina (13) and Hector (10) enjoyed the fresh air and live music while swinging in the air.
Muniz has been attending this event for the last four years and stated that this is an event her daughter thoroughly enjoys and looks forward to.
“Cada ano pregunta…y ya va hacer el evento mami,” Muniz said.
Local vendors and school districts take this time to outreach and give away school supplies, coupons, candy, and other prizes to children and adults in attendance. This helps to generate future business leads while mingling with local citizens in a no-pressure environment.
Marina Trevino with Calvino Insurance of Mission currently offers Medicare, funeral plans, health and life insurance and has been attending the NNO in Palmhurst for the last 7 years among others.
Trevino said she returns each year to give back and meet new people that will hopefully benefit from their services. “This is how we get our name out,” she said. “The people and community is why we do this.”
There were various performances throughout the night. Cheerleaders, drill teams, folklorico, JROTC color guard, choir, and the Mission High School Aguilas (mariachi).
Orlando Salinas director of the MHS Aguilas Mariachi has been coaching some of these students since they were in the sixth grade and claims that performing for community events is different than regular competition performances.
“This is for the community and we get to do things we usually don’t do like use an accordion and electric bass to spice it up a little bit,” Salinas boasted. “Lots of these community events I didn’t even know about. We’ve done some of the community events now, and we’re hoping that this [Palmhurst NNO] becomes one of those we do yearly.”
Palmhurst Police Chief Mike Vela has been participating in NNO since before the inception of the Police Department. He encourages everyone to come out next year and witness the event for themselves. “They need to come out here…the positivity, the students, citizens, everyone is happy and coming together as one. No politics and it’s all about being a community,” Vela said.
The community seemed to resonate with the participants, spectators, law enforcement, and all in attendance. The commitment, positivity, and comradery between the community and law enforcement have grown deeper as more people attend. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be here and it’s a great feeling,” Vela boasted.
There were approximately 4,500 people in attendance according to Chief Vela. “I want to thank everyone, my staff, city staff, my mayor, and city council as well. The one I really miss, and we really want to honor tonight is former Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez Jr., (Palmhurst Mayor 1999-2022),” Vela stated. “I will never forget what he’s done for this community, our department, and this city. A piece of our heart is missing.”
Mayor Fred del Barrio was pleased with the turnout and hopes to see more people in attendance at future city events. “I have big shoes to fill,” del Barrio stated referring to the former mayor. “I’m happy to be here, it’s a family gathering; it’s about community. Palmhurst is the shining gold star of South Texas and my goal as mayor is to keep it that way, but the people in Palmhurst make it easy for me,” he added.
Some people gathered around to watch the performances while enjoying delicious snacks purchased from different organizations on site. Some walked around going from one vendor to another participating in games to win free prizes and picking up free school supplies, and others tended to their children enjoying the different attractions and the cool weather. People came together to enjoy and celebrate this community.
“They’re enjoying themselves, you can’t not want to be here,” said Mayor del Barrio.