The Celebration of the Mayor’s International Brunch 2019, a Success

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As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition February 2019

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As it has already become a tradition and part of history for the City of Mission, Aida Lerma, Deputy City Manager began the ceremony of the Mayor’s International Brunch 2019.

“Good morning and welcome. Welcome to the Mayor’s International Brunch. I’d like to give you a warm welcome this morning as we also celebrate the Texas Citrus Fiesta.”

The ceremony has always been traditional, this time Miss Abigail Cuellar sang the U.S.National Anthem, followed by Mexico’s National Anthem. Pastor Ely Sanchez with AllHeart Church led the gathering in prayer.

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The Mayor’s International Brunch is well known throughout the area because of its connection with Mexico. “We are honored to have our sister cities from throughout Mexico today, as well as many distinguished guests.”

A great partner to the city is the Mission Chamber of Commerce led by Brenda Enriquez. They provide opportunities for all businesses and individuals who want to invest in Mission. For this occasion, Albert Chapa, the current Chairman of the Board stepped to the podium and said, “Welcome to our Mayor’s International Brunch. A special welcome to those who have traveled to be here with us today. This is a significant week and weekend for us in Mission. We celebrate the citrus industry, our vibrant economy, and a great quality of life that we enjoy in Mission.”

Mayor Dr.Armando O’Caña was introduced as a faithful public servant, with a lifetime of service. Dr. O’Caña has served for over six months and has worked very hard to bring in new business, to improve the quality of life, to build relationships; he has many new and innovative ideas for this community. His motto strongly states that Mission is his vision.

“Good morning, everyone. Last night I used all my Spanish while meeting with our sister cities, which are an integral part of our operations in the City of Mission.” Mayor O’Caña said, “Since we are turning Mission international with two bridges that we have, one already in place, known as the Anzalduas Bridge, and the other one is Mission Madero Bridge, that is coming in the future. We should be able to get it done in the next 10 years for Mission.”

He continued “I heartily welcome you on behalf of all the citizens of Mission for this prestigious occasion. A city tradition since the mid-1970s, today we gather for the Mayor’s Brunch, but also for a celebration of our history, our culture, our legacy, our international neighbors, our parade marshal that is from Mission, Tito Santana.” 

At that point, Mayor O’Caña invited Mr. Santana to stand to be recognized. Mr. Santana is the pride and joy for many in Mission, he represented everyone nationally as a wrestler.

“And finally, the celebration of the Texas Citrus Fiesta; Anybody from the Texas Citrus Fiesta board?” He said that usually, they don’t make it to the brunch because they have other activities. “I did tell them that it was time for a change and that we need representation at the Mayor’s Brunch, so thank you for coming.”

He told the attendees, “It’s something different, that we’re doing small things that create big visions in Mission.”

It is known that the International Brunchofficially kicks off the festival. He said, “We are here together, and although it is an informal gathering, it is a unique opportunity for us to highlight the citrus industry and its critical importance to the history of our community.”

The mayor remembered that when he was growing up, he had the opportunity to pick grapefruit and oranges while he was going to school. “That history, that tradition that Mission is home of the grapefruit, that was our theme.”

“I want to bring that … bring those signs back, home of the grapefruit, specifically the one on Bryan Road. So, I’m going to give a task to our city manager that we need to put that sign back there where it says ‘Mission, Texas Home of the Grapefruit’.”

He pointed out that at the same time plant the seed for the future, the future of the Mission. “I had the opportunity to bring in 15 new committees. And one of the new committees is called the 2050 Committee, and everybody’s asking me, “What the heck is a 2050 Committee?” And it’s straightforward, we have to answer one question – how do we want to have Mission look in the year 2050? That is the 2050 committee that’s coming.”

He addressed the representative of Congress, and the state legislators on the importance of starting to look into raw water and thinking about the possibility of moving the raw water from 9-mile line to 15-mile line so progress can begin on the north side, as a long vision plan.

He said that the citrus industry has been and is the foundation of Mission. “It is so inspiring that what once began as a few orchards, has grown into Mission’s rich heritage and tradition, as we celebrate today.”

In addition, he said, “Here I see a blend of extraordinary local leaders, elected area officials, international dignitaries, and state legislators as well as federal representatives, that they have come to us from each and every corner of the region of the Valley, the State of Texas, and the United States.” He continued, “I feel privileged to extend my warm welcome to all of you and our sister cities, our international delegations who are constantly extending their support to Mission. We welcome you to our great city, a hotspot for shopping and eating, a magnet for new residents in an exclusive residential area, and a prime destination for specialized medical care.”

“We could not do this without you, and for that we thank you. We thank our southern neighbors who contributed so positively to our local economy and have helped us thrive and prosper.”

The Mayor also thanked the citrus growers, the industry leaders. “We thank you for helping to showcase the city and making Mission a city of choice. We asked that you join all of our Texas Citrus Fiesta festivities, join us, in this event, second to none. It’s a distinct and special experience you won’t forget during your lifetime.”

Immediately after, he proceeded to invite Merced Solis and presented him with a plaque.  

“On behalf of the citizens of Mission, I want to recognize Merced Solis, AKA proudly Tito Santana.” He continued, “Most people don’t know his history. He’s a graduate from Mission High School. He also went to Southwest Texas State and became an All-American.”

Mayor O’Caña said that there was another player next to Santana that nobody recognized because it was him, O’Caña.

He explained, “I just wanted to make sure that people understand that’s one of the reasons why he became the parade marshal.” It was also said that Santana also played for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Santana said that he left Mission in 1971. “God has been very good to me. This is the award that means the most to me.” He said, “I was a migrant and came from a poor family. And to have seen and to have accomplished what I have accomplished, all I can say is, I owe it all to God.”

Julian Alvarez, III, the keynote speaker, is the commissioner representing Labor in the Texas Workforce Commission. Governor of Texas Greg Abbott reappointed him to the three-member commission in 2017. As a labor commissioner, Julian Alvarez serves the interests of more than 13 million Texas workers, concerning the Texas Workforce Commission Services, and ensures that their concerns are considered in all the commission’s actions.

After Julian came Ruben Plata, Mission City Commissioner and he said, “I don’t know about you, but I am so excited to be a citizen of South Texas. We are one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation.”

He continued, “We are here to celebrate the citrus industry. Thank God for John H. Shary, founder of the Texas Citrus Industry. But also, this is our Mayor’s International Brunch. Mayor O’Caña and the council thank you for putting this together to celebrate so many good things that are happening in Mission.”

Acknowledgment was made of Mission leadership that works hand in hand to make Mission, a city of choice. City officials were recognized beginning with Mayor Dr. Armando O’Caña; Councilwoman Jessica Ortega-Ochoa; Councilman Ruben Plata; Interim City Manager Randy Perez, and Council Member, our Mayor Pro Tem Norie Gonzalez Garza, and Councilman Gus Martinez.

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