Texas Citrus Fiesta to go forward with safety precautions

The events of the annual Texas Citrus Fiesta will go on as scheduled next month, though with some modifications in the face of the continued coronavirus threat.

On Monday, the Mission city council approved plans presented by the Citrus Fiesta organization for traditional events like the fun fair, the carnival and the Parade of Oranges.

The parade, the closing event of the season, will go forward Jan. 30 as a standing parade, according to Lisa Rivera, the executive director of Citrus Fiesta.

“It’s going to be a standstill parade and it will be taking place on Conway (Ave.),” Rivera said. “We will start lining up our floats on 2 Mile Line and continue on down south.”

How far down on Conway the parade goes will depend on the number of parade entries they receive.

During the hours that the parade is set up, which are still being finalized, the public will be able to drive by the floats and the other parade entries that will be set up.

Despite some concerns expressed by members of the council, the carnival and the Fun Fair will move forward and will be located off the corner of Farm-to-Market 495 Road.

Rivera assured they would be following guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Everything’s going to be spaced out as required,” Rivera said. “It is an outdoor event so it’s a lot safer for the public to come out and enjoy.”

Masks and social distancing will be required for all events, she said. Additionally, the carnival will have less rides, all single-seaters, that will be sanitized after each ride.

One of the other major events of the season is the royal coronation of King Citrus and Queen Citrianna that is held every year at Mission High School a few days before the parade.

Rivera said the coronation will be held Jan. 28, though capacity for the event has yet to be determined.

“I’m waiting for the school district to let me know exactly how they want us to set up and what’s the limit on spectators that we’re allowed on that night,” Rivera explained. “So we’re still working on those details.”

She added that on Jan. 16, they will hold their annual costume products show at the Mission Event Center, a location they selected because of ample space there.

While the organizers seem steadfast in continuing the annual tradition of Texas Citrus Fiesta, Rivera said there was a time when they worried they might have to cancel the events altogether.

“Just recently we said, ‘OK, vaccine’s coming out and hopefully by January things will kind of be a little bit more calm, people are willing to come out,'” Rivera said.

She added that they’re aware that cases are on the rise but still feel a little better than months prior.

“It’s not going to go away completely, but at least to bring some cheerfulness to the people and come out and be safe,” Rivera said. “So yes, we were fearful that it was not going to happen, but as we got closer and we were willing to work with the city as well and get this approved, (we) said, ‘OK, we’re going to follow all CDC guidelines and try it, get it going.'”

Rivera said she felt it was important that the community be able to partake in the tradition of the Texas Citrus Fiesta, which has been around for 84 years.

“It is part of Mission, it is part of the Rio Grande Valley,” she said. “It is something expected. Yet this year we’re going to have it follow tradition, but with those special guidelines.”

A lot of the people have grown up going to the parade, she added.

“They were part of the parade, and now they’re just sitting on sidelines watching the parade,” Rivera said. “This year, unfortunately, is going to be a little different but we’re going to try to make it as normal as possible, that’s how important this parade is.”

The theme this time is “Let Your Dream Blossom,” which Rivera said is fitting with their hope that things start blossoming again come January and that they’re able to kick off the year on a positive note.

“We want to give the community a little bit of cheerfulness,” she said.