Winter Texans from around the Valley enjoy annual event in their honor

HARLINGEN — Russ Manhard took a good look at the 1931 Ford Coupe at yesterday’s Winter Texan Appreciation Day.

Looking up close at the mirror-like black paint job, its Mickey Thompson wheels and the leather interior of the exotic car, it didn’t take him long to know the car was expensive.

Manhard, 68 from Manitoba, Canada, said he knows what it takes to restore a car.

He put $7,000 into the engine to get his 1931 Chevy going.

The highlight of the show seemed to be the event’s annual antique car show, which draws many car owners who show off their wheels that date back to the 1930s and into the year 2000.

There were Corvettes from the 50s on up. Chevy trucks and even rebuilt Cameros, Mustangs, a Ford Model T and wheels you just don’t see on the street anymore.

“I like the car show,” Manhard said. “A lot of money goes into these cars.”

Manhard hadn’t even been into the event center that was filled with vendors, prizes and entertainment for the Winter Texans to enjoy and find out more about the services throughout the Valley. He was more interested in the car show.

“I got what I wanted, and I’m going back out to the car show,” he said.

Hundreds of area Winter Texans enjoyed the perfect afternoon meeting area vendors and checking out the cool cars.

They came from as far as Mission, Arroyo City and Brownsville. Those were the cities they call their home away from home.

Pharr resident Jerry Rush from Missouri said he wishes he had known about the Valley earlier.

He complained about all the years he endured in the winter in his hometown of Independence, Missouri.

“This is our second year here as Winter Texans,” Rush said. “This is a very informative event and it’s helped us quite a bit, and we’ll probably come back next year.”

The city of Harlingen hosted its 13th Annual Winter Texan Appreciation Day at Casa de Amistad yesterday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There were so many people in attendance that Harlingen Medical Center ran out of its 500 bags they were handing out to Winter Texans to fill up with information.

The tourists danced to oldies music as they stood in line to meet the vendors and smiled and twisted to the oldies as they walked around the car show.

Throughout the afternoon the songs of Bill Haley were played by the DJ and outdoor band.

Haley lived in Harlingen and is known for the song “Rock Around the Clock.”

“The Winter Texans provide business to our economy,” said Melissa Landin, Harlingen Convention Center and Visitors Bureau director. “We want them to continue to visit Harlingen.”

She said the city of Harlingen provides events like this for Winter Texans to show them their appreciation as a city.

“We want them to stay in Harlingen,” Landin said. “And we are here for them every step of the way for our Winter Texans.”