Brownsville and Matamoros renewed a longstanding friendship Thursday morning during the annual Hands Across the Border ceremony, one of the most important events during Charro Days.
In a tradition-filled observance at the midpoint of the Gateway International Bridge, the two cities honored the ties that bind them as one community spanning two countries.
After each city had posted its nation’s flag and sung its national anthem, young children from each side of the border exchanged miniature flags and gifts symbolizing the friendship and high regard each city has for the other.
“We are more than neighbors, we are family,” Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez said from the U.S. side of the reviewing stand in the middle of the bridge. “Today we are committing ourselves to our shared past and recommitting ourselves to our shared future.”
From the Mexican side, Matamoros Mayor Alfonso Sanchez Garza characterized the ceremony as a hymn to the friendship the two cities share.
Welcoming everyone from Matamoros and Brownsville, Tamaulipas and Texas, Sanchez Garza said the friendly relations the two cities enjoy exemplify unity and strength of human sprit.
Martinez presented Sanchez Garza with two plaques, the official event plaque from the city of Brownsville and a photo enlargement of the two men engaging in the traditional “abrazo” at last year’s ceremony.
The event also marked an important appearance for this year’s Mr. Amigo, Mexican film star Eduardo Yañez, who sat at the center of the reviewing stand with Yesenia Patino, president of the Mr. Amigo Association.
Yañez became the subject for dozens of smart-phone photos taken by adoring fans as they swooned for him when he entered the stage, and again when he stood to be recognized.
Later, at a reception at The Arts Center, Yañez was presented with gifts and a plaque recognizing his achievements in film and on TV in Mexico and the United States.
Yáñez currently stars as Jose Angel Arriaga in Televisa’s “Amores Verdaderos” and has appeared in numerous Mexican soap operas and U.S. films.
About 800 people attended the reception, which included performances by Grupo Folklórico Tizatlán and Mariachi Ocelotetlan from the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.