Dia de los Muertos Street Festival in Downtown Corpus Christi

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Painted faces as skulls were everywhere.
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Colorful handmade arts and crafts vendors were abundant.
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Tons of music, dance, food, art, and fun

 

Source:  http://diadelosmuertoscc.com/

Background – Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos (DDLM) or the Day of the Dead is a traditional holiday in Mexico when deceased friends and family members are remembered and celebrated. It is a poignant time, both solemn and joyous, with colorful artistic traditions, pageantry, and whimsy despite the sobering subject. Dia de los Muertos is a joyful remembrance in which death is recognized as a natural part of the cycle of life.

In the arts, everyday life is represented in skeletal form. A common symbol of Dia de los Muertos is the skull or “calavera” often represented in masks, candy, and other curios. Traditional activities include making sugar skulls decorated with brightly colored icing, papel picaco (cut paper banners) and paper mache’ masks and figures.  Some people believe possessing Day of the Dead items, like tattoos, dolls, sugar skulls or jewelry, can bring good luck.

Souls of the deceased return to visit loved ones on the days of October 31-November 2.  In preparation for the reunion, families create altars to honor the deceased with ofrendas (offerings) of yellow marigolds, memorabilia, photos, favorite foods, beverages and trinkets of the departed.  Religious and spiritual symbols, like the Christian Cross and Virgin Mary often adorn altars, as well.

Because it is a national holiday in Mexico, schools and government offices close, and the streets are decorated.  People, young and old alike, participate in the festivities: parades, dancing in the town square, and processions to the cemetery.  At the cemetery, the spirits are honored with music, dancing, poetry and stories.  Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as people recall funny events and stories about the departed.  In some areas of Mexico, they picnic or even sleep at the gravesite.

This celebration has gone on for centuries in Mexico.  By presenting the Dia de los Muertos festival and educational programming, we are providing an opportunity for people to learn about this rich cultural tradition of Mexico, to create a connection to our past, and to honor and celebrate the deceased.

Our DDLM Festival assists with cultural tourism by drawing artists, vendors, musicians, and festival-goers to Corpus Christi and to the downtown area.  To enhance our DDLM programming, K Space Contemporary has added cultural art workshops during the month of October and a fine art exhibition. During November, a thematically associated exhibition will be displayed in the main gallery, including the Extravagancia de Piñatas, a contest and exhibition of piñatas constructed by area K-12 schools (groups/art classes/art clubs).  These student groups compete for cash awards for classroom supplies.

The 7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival was held Saturday, November 1, 3 pm to midnight!  The festival is held in the 400-500 blocks of Starr and 500-700 blocks of Mesquite Streets in downtown Corpus Christi. Everyone is encouraged to wear a costume.  The event includes live music, Mariachis, Folklorico dancers, Hecho a Mano Art Expo, Kids’ Activities, community altar, food, drinks and more.  Texas A & M University Art Department’s “Hold Steady Iron Pouring Crew” will be on hand offering visitors a chance to create their own miniature iron sculpture while the Printmaking Department will be print customized t-shirts.  A community altar is located inside K Space Contemporary.

Many of  Corpus Christi’s favorite artists will be on hand selling their work and El Dia de los Muertos themed items.

The Hecho a Mano Art Expo features over 75 artists offering everything from jewelry to sculpture to all kinds of Dia de los Muertos related trinkets.  Those that are interested in being a vendor will find guidelines and registration information under “Vendor Information” on this website.

We are accepting sponsors and seeking volunteers.   Sponsorship information is available at http://www.diadelosmuertoscc.com.  Anyone interested in volunteering may call (361)887-6834.

Dia de los Muertos Street Festival is coordinated by the Electra Art*Axis Tattoo, K Space Contemporary, Corpus Christi Downtown Management District, and House of Rock. Proceeds from the event benefit K Space Contemporary, a 501 (C) 3 non-profit arts organization.

 

 P.S. I just had to buy 3 of Roel Palacio’s wonderful masks! They are just amazing!

September Skies

Keeping September is usually our rainy month, and has not let us down this year in the Coastal Bend. The skies have put on a show of their own. These were snapped with my phone, but you can see the cloud formations are really cool.

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Sculptural clouds form one morning over the Laguna Madre in Flour Bluff.
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Rain clouds billow like smoke over the Laguna Madre.
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Is there a pot of gold in downtown Corpus Christi?

Running the Beach to Bay

beach to bay about us
Photo courtesy of http://www.beachtobayrelay.com

Lace up those Asics, it is time to run first and later play at the Beach to Bay Relay!

According to http://www.beachtobayrelay.com, “Since 1976, runners and fun-seekers have flocked to Corpus Christi, Texas to run the Beach to Bay Relay Marathon. To many runners, the annual event has become a tradition throughout the State of Texas.

Beach to Bay has grown to be the largest relay marathon in the United States. Attracting runners from all over the U.S. as well as Kenya, England and Mexico. Approximately 2,600 teams totaling over 16,000 runners compete each year.

The Beach to Bay Relay Marathon is a six-person relay running event that totals 26.2 miles of beach, pavement, a little sweat, an occasional tear and a bunch of smiles. Beginning on the sands of North Padre Island, winding through Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and ending at McCaughan Park along Corpus Christi’s scenic Shoreline Drive, the course is divided into six-legs of roughly 4.4 miles each.

Always held on the third Saturday in May, Armed Forces Day, B2B proudly honors the men and women serving in our United States Military. It’s a tradition founded by Captain John Butterfield back in 1976.”

After the runners complete their legs, most teams gather at McCaughan Park to cheer on their last leg runners and later celebrate a good run with a little beer and pizza. The B2B website proclaims, “Pain now; beer later.”

So, if you want a little fun while you run, the Beach to Bay Relay is the way.

Fish Lips Sink Ships: Adding to the Nearshore Reef Project

Fishing and diving playground planned 10 miles from Packery Channel and Port Aransas.

"This 155-freighter could become part of an artificial reef for fishing and diving offshore of Packery Channel if the Corpus Christi City Council agrees to pony up $100,000 toward the $500,000 effort." Photo courtesy of Caller.com
“This 155-freighter could become part of an artificial reef for fishing and diving offshore of Packery Channel if the Corpus Christi City Council agrees to pony up $100,000 toward the $500,000 effort.” Photo courtesy of Caller.com

Sometimes treasure can be found around sunken ships, only this treasure is of the marine-life paradise kind. As part of the Ships-to Reefs Project, these submerged ships and structures provide a foundational surface for marine life to attach. After a while, the surface builds up with coral and other marine life and the submerged ship or other structure provides shelter and a strong ecosystem for overfished reef fish species such as snapper and grouper. This project will help replenish some habitat that was destroyed when several offshore oil and gas platforms were removed in recent years. If the City of Corpus Christi agrees to foot $100,000 of the bill, the ship could be in place by the end of summer 2014.

Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Artificial Reef Program
Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Artificial Reef Program

The reefs and marine life attract other forms of treasure, fishermen and divers. This ongoing, Near Shore Reefing project has had plenty of bang for both the local and the Texas economy since off shore and recreational fishing generates 2 billion per year for Texas.  The Coast Bend, namely, Port Aransas has been known as the “fishing capital of Texas.”  The Caller Times reported that according to Mike Hurst, who chairs the offshore committee, Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Association (SEA),”This will be one of the best dive and fishing sites long the mid-Texas Coast. We have secured the ship and are in the final stages of permitting.”

This project is set to enhance the local ecosystem for both marine treasure and human treasure, So, fish lips really do sink ships. Who knew?

Sources: The Island Moon Newspaper; KIIITV.com; Corpus Christi Caller Times; Texas Parks and wildlife

 

 

Get your Springtime on!

Playing with the butterflies was a total hit with both the kids and adults!
Playing with the butterflies was a total hit with both the kids and adults!

It is Spring Break here in the Coastal Bend, and the beaches are packed with Spring Breakers. So since I was home with the kiddos this week, we did a few family friendly things away from the crazed throngs at the beaches.

Spring Break on North Padre Island, Texas. Photo courtesy of http://entertainment.caller.com
Spring Break on North Padre Island, Texas. Photo courtesy of http://entertainment.caller.com

The weather was gorgeous, and we wanted to be outdoors, but we did not want to go to Padre Island. My friend told me that she and her daughter and friends went to the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens. Good idea!

What better way to enjoy Spring's bounty, but to be among it.
What better way to enjoy Spring’s bounty, but to be in it.

I took the kids and they enjoyed the day and fresh air with the gorgeous flora and fauna. We spent several hours out there and had a fabulous time, and the kids had fun with a little learning mixed in! Best of all, it was family friendly fun!

The kids enjoyed the flowers, ladybugs, and butterflies.
The kids enjoyed the flowers, ladybugs, and butterflies.
The kids loved the variety of colorful birds at the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens.
The kids loved the variety of colorful birds at the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens.
Watching the wildlife at the wetlands area of the Botanical Gardens.
Watching the wildlife at the wetlands area of the Botanical Gardens.
The colors of Spring were abundant.
The colors of Spring were vibrant and abundant.

Mardi Gras Celebrated Island Style?

Mardi Gras—

Most people think of beads, bare chests, and booze.

On Padre Island, they do Mardi Gras— barefoot.

All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newspaper.
All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newspaper.

According to http://barefootmardigras.com/,”Barefoot Mardi Gras offers a Texas style carnival atmosphere right on the beautiful beaches of Corpus Christi. Catch some beads and rays while advocating for youth!”

The 5th annual Barefoot Mardi Gras Parade and Party was this past weekend on North Padre Island. The event benefits Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. The parade started at noon on beach down from Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park.

So if you are around the Coastal Bend this time of year, you might want to check out this islander twist on Mardi Gras. If you want beads, beautiful beaches, and bare feet,  this could be the Mardi Gras for you.

All photos by Miles Merwin. Island Moon Newpaper
All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newpaper

Spring Break Already?

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Spring Break on North Padre Island, Texas. Photo courtesy of http://entertainment.caller.com

Wow…we had just been talking about cold, stunned turtles and polar vortex weather roller coasters… Now Spring Break in just around the corner. The first weekend will be March 7-8 with the busiest weekend on the 14-15th. However, today, the temp. dropped again. Spring is just a teasing us…

With all of this cold crazy weather this winter, there will be plenty of hormone-filled, Spring- feverish breakers coming to our little strip of sand here in South Texas. We here in the Coastal Bend have noticed that the traffic has been steadily increasing over the years here, but get ready for more.

So, if you want a quiet time here at the beach, well, it may not be happening for the mid-part of March. However, you will probably have a quieter time over at Padre Island National Seashore or maybe even at Rockport. The Port Aransas Beaches and many of the beaches on North Padre and definitely South Padre Islands will be busy. But just like March, it roars in like a lion, and leaves like a lamb.

Why Limit Your Romantic Options to Valentine’s Day?

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Photo courtesy of tex.org

Valentine’s Day: This is a day we try to show our loved ones that we care. This is a day we send roses, cards, and candy to the ones we adore. This is a day we seek out romantic places to go to enjoy each other’s company.

But why limit yourself to just one day?

I have to admit we did buy cards and flowers to show love to each other, but we decided that we would barbeque outside and enjoy our time together. We figured that all of the restaurants would be packed with at least an hour long waiting list.

How romantic is that?

We figured we would just go out maybe the next night or just go strolling down at the beach and enjoy each other’s company. We would actually talk and spend time together among the sounds of the roar of the ocean and the laughing of gulls. Heck, there are almost no people there this time of year anyway…

What an idea!

Hey, for what its worth, we probably saved money as well as time. Most of all, we spent quality time together in a romantic place with nice view.

Crazy Winter Roller Coaster!

It snowed here in South Texas! It sure did! There was snow mostly to the south of the Coastal Bend, but there was actual snow!  The only thing is that it was only snow flurries, and not actual sticking to ground snow! I saw the little flakes this morning in Flour Bluff around 10:00 am. The last time we had any real snow here was back on December 24th, 2004, where we had about 4 inches of snow!

Well, with the weather the way it has been going around here, we have been on a wild roller coaster ride! This weekend, we are expecting highs in the 70’s.  Somehow this year we have had the four seasons all within a week. This crazy pattern has repeated itself all winter long. Will real Spring ever come?

 Snow in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of www.accuweather.com
Snow in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of http://www.accuweather.com

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do: North Padre Island and Flour Bluff: Get Good Grub

This will be part of a series of places to Go, ”Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. This is the last of  first main part of the series  about North Padre Island.

My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

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Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island

First, let me clarify some confusion. I don’t know how many people get North Padre Island mixed up with South Padre Island. They are two different places, and you cannot get to South Padre Island from North Padre Island on “South Padre Island Drive” (the freeway that runs through Corpus Christi) to get to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is another 2 hours away. The islands are two separate places. I still scratch my head on why they named the freeway that runs through Corpus “South Padre Island Drive.” Anyway, here is one of my favorite places on North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

3. Packery Channel

4. The Seawall on North Padre Island:

5. My Favorite Places to Eat Seafood with the kids:

-Snoopy’s Pier

Snoopy's Pier. Photo courtesy of coastalbendlife.com
Snoopy’s Pier. Photo courtesy of coastalbendlife.com

According to  http://www.snoopyspier.com/,”Snoopy’s Pier was literally a product of the Redfish Wars, a battle over commercial fishing rights in the inland waterways and bay systems of Texas. As with many commercial fishermen in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Ernie Butler realized the Redfish Wars signaled the beginning of the end of the commercial fishing industry in Texas. So when it was no longer fun to be chased by Texas Game Wardens, Ernie decided to give up trying to catch fish and shrimp and start cooking them instead. In August 1980 Ernie and his wife, Corliss, purchased a small bait stand and burger joint with a 600 foot fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway. Family and friends pitched in their favorite recipes and Snoop’s Pier was born.”

Let me just say that this place used to be a total dive with great food, but over time, they have changed. Now they have air conditioning and a remodeled interior, their prices have gone up some. However, you can’t beat them for fresh seafood. They have the best shrimp in Corpus Christi.

The fresh shrimp are the best in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of urbanspoon.com
The fresh shrimp are the best in Corpus Christi.
Photo courtesy of urbanspoon.com

Also, the kids love it since you can sit outside and watch the fish. Kids love to feed the hardhead fish below the pier small pieces of crackers and watch them gobble the crumbs. Families and romantics alike enjoy sitting outside and watch the sunset over Flour Bluff.

Sunset over the Bluff at Snoopy's Pier
Sunset over the Bluff at Snoopy’s Pier

If you arrive by sea, you can dock your boat right next to the restaurant. If you arrive by land, from Corpus, you will go over the JFK bridge and take the first right once you gone over the bridge and follow the road there.

-Okay, here is another good recommendation for good seafood- Laguna Reef at Bluff Landing in Flour Bluff

Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of bluffslanding.com
Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of bluffslanding.com

Laguna Reef  is in Flour Bluff which is the chunk of land you encounter before going to North Padre Island. It is a little out of the way, but worth it. Coming from Corpus, you would exit right toward Waldron Road. You continue on the service road past HEB and turn right onto Laguna Shores. You go down Laguna Shores forever until the end of the road. Then you turn left, and you are there.

This is another restaurant that you can access by boat. According to http://www.bluffslanding.com/restaurant.php ,”Located next to the Marina & Hotel, the Laguna Reef Restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood and delicious meat. They even let you bring in your own catch and they cook it for you! With excellent views of the marina, family owners & operators, Laguna Reef is the place to be.”

Pretty much any seafood on the menu is good. I love their coconut shrimp! After a day of playing around on North Padre Island, it is great to know where to get some good grub!

Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of coastalbendmenuguide.com
Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of coastalbendmenuguide.com