Competition was stiff Saturday, but Gina Sanchez, art teacher at North Elementary, was up for the challenge.
She had papier-mâché carrots, watermelons and corn, and she recruited students to serve as farmers on their float, which looked like a cornfield, for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show parade.
“This was made with a lot of passion,” Sanchez said as about a dozen students readied for the ride. “I love being creative.”
The theme this year is “Where Good Things are Growing,” and this weekend marks the launch for the weeklong event in Mercedes.
This year’s parade featured more than 130 entries, ranging from dancing horses to a dancing hamster in a Kia Soul. All dancing entries seemed to be a hit with the children who lined Texas Avenue with their families as the parade headed north from downtown Mercedes to the livestock show grounds.
Meanwhile, originally from Mexico City, Sanchez attributed her love for papier-mâché to her Mexican roots.
Sanchez worked on the float for three months. She spent the last week working on it nonstop. Last year, when the theme was, “A Family Affair,” Sanchez came up with a mini-carnival complete with a moving Ferris wheel.
She has been doing the floats for the school the past four years and came in second place for the last two. Sanchez was ready for a win. If they won, she planned to use the money on a school student council trip.
But it wasn’t the year for North Elementary.
Top honors went to Mercedes Early College in the competitive division. Hector Rodriguez, with the livestock show, said judges appreciated that students did all the work on the float.
Second place was Mercedes Housing Authority, with Noemi Dominguez Elementary coming in third and the Cameron County 4-H Ambassadors in fourth.
Horacio Pequeño, executive director of the Mercedes Housing Authority, said their float took two weeks to complete. The float featured real produce, like oranges and lettuce, displayed outside of a barn, along with a tractor and mini-farm in the front. It even had a windmill. It was a group effort, and employees within the organization worked together to put together, along with help from local vendors who donated goods for the cause.
Pequeño had hoped for a repeat of last year, when the agency came in first place. He said all the money won through the parade goes to scholarships for the housing authority’s residents.
No matter what group won, as students in the Progreso or Mercedes High School marching bands were passing by, Miss Mercedes was waving and sitting atop a bale of hay, or clowns from with the Nomad Shrine Club honked their horns, spirits were high, and residents from across the community cheered on their friends, family and neighbors and things kicked into high gear for the 74th annual Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.