Winter Texans are arriving
But just how many folks from up north we can expect in Port Aransas this winter is hard to tell. Reports are conflicting.
Foot traffic at the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce- Tourist Bureau this month is down by about one-third of what it was in December last year, according to Ann Bracher Vaughan, president and CEO of the organization.
The lackluster national economy and the recent presence of the red tide algal bloom might have something to do with the decrease, Vaughan said. The bloom in Gulf and bay waters has produced vapors that slightly sting the eyes and cause usually minor respiratory problems.
Susan Brown, manager at Pioneer Beach Resort, said RV traffic at her park is below average for this time of year. At press time, the park, which has 361 RV pads, was 35 to 45 percent full, with about 30 percent of the customers being Winter Texans, Brown said.
Normally, the park would be 60 to 75 percent full this time of year, with about half of the customers being Winter Texans, Brown said.
But it’s not usually until January that Winter Texans really hit town hard each year. On a normal year, Pioneer Beach Resort is full by Feb. 1, with nearly all of the customers coming from outside the state, Brown said.
Jim Triplett, managing director of CCMS Resorts, said advance deposits for stays at his firm’s 12 condominiums and other lodging businesses are about equal to what they were last year. Seven of the CCMS properties lie in Port Aransas, and the rest stand a bit farther down State Hwy. 361 – the Island Road
Pat Reilly is seeing numbers that indicate a possible surge of Winter Texans in town. Reilly is director of Joint Effort Leisure Ministries ( JELM), a Community Presbyterian Church program that caters largely to Winter Texans.
Some 140 Winter Texans have registered for JELM programs so far this winter, Reilly said. Normally, she said, only about 100 have registered by this time in December.
JELM provides a wide variety of services, from aerobic classes at the Pollock Center to bus trips out of town to go shopping or to visit rodeos and historical sites.
Other organizations in town put on special events geared largely toward serving Winter Texans. The Kiwanis Club sponsors its annual Great Potato Bake. The Rotary Club conducts a fish fry, dance and auction. The Port Aransas Garden Club holds its annual Tour of Homes.
In addition, the Port Aransas Merchants Dine Around, Ro-
Club Shrimp Boil, Winter Old-Lympics Tennis Tournament and Kiwanis Club Wine and Food Tasting are planned largely with Winter Texans in mind.
Winter is the Port Aransas Community Theater (PACT) organization’s money-making season, and it’s largely due to patronage from Winter Texans, according to Lisa Shelton, president of the PACT board of directors. PACT occasionally hosts wine and cheese receptions for Winter Texans.
Winter Texans Gerry and Berniece “Bernie” Geenen of Chute, Wis., arrived in Port Aransas a few weeks ago. They’re staying at Island RV Resort. This is their sixth long winter visit to Port Aransas. Gerry likes to fish, and Bernie likes to golf.
But it’s friendships that kept them coming back to Aransas, as much as anything, Bernie said.
“We’ve met people in campground, and we like she said. “We get together afternoon and have little hours.”
While the size of the Winter Texan influx is unclear this what’s unambiguous is impact on community work Port Aransas. The population known for doing a lot of volunteer work in town.
Many Winter Texans volunteer at Port Aransas schools.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Sharon Doughty, superintendent of the Port Aransas
School District. just wait for them to get to because we know they’re to be visiting and help the whether it’s decorating bulletin boards or sharing their knowledge and working with children directly, and that’s usually mentor.
“I really attribute it spirit of giving, from the they get here to the they leave,” Doughty said.
Dan Parker at (361) 5131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.