Canadians who usually winter camp in South Texas could not return last year because of the pandemic and border restrictions. But this year, they are back at campgrounds around Texas.
A report mentions Ontario, Canada retirees Nancy and Gary Morgan who are Winter Texans. They proudly display their mobile home resort park ID badges, complete with tiny Texas charms that show every year they’ve visited the Rio Grande Valley since 2012. However, they’re missing the icon for 2021.
However, this year, the Morgans, along with thousands of retirees, have returned to South Texas after border restrictions were lifted on November 8 for those fully vaccinated.
“It’s like a big family here, so it’s a very nice park. And we’re missing lots of snow and cold weather,” said Gary, sporting a cowboy hat as he and Nancy attended a park meeting on Thursday morning at the Palm Shadows Mobile Home and RV Resort Park in the border town of Donna Texas.
The conference lounge was packed with hundreds of Winter Texans from across the United States and Canada.
A tiny portion of them are converted Texans because of staying there all year long and have moved permanently from colder climates to appreciate the culture of the border: Gulf Coast breezes and the warm, year-round golfing weather.
Kristi Collier, who started Welcome Home RGV to organize events and attract retirees from the North to the region’s 300 mobile park homes, said in an interview that the number of returning residents has significantly grown since mid-December and after the New Year.
“It’s so refreshing to see so many of our Winter Texan friends back this year. With the pandemic, last season was almost non-existent, quite frankly,” Collier said. “There’s a lot of things to do here in South Texas even if you want to social distance from others, from golfing to the island to walking trails and bike trails, all the things you can do outside that you can’t do in Iowa in the winter.”
More than 100,000 Winter Texans call the Rio Grande Valley their home. They typically arrive during the holiday season and leave in April before the hot three-digit temperatures return.
A 2017-2018 study of Winter Texans by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley found that they generated around $530 million for the local border economies.
However, Collier told Thursday’s crowd that they help create more than $700 million.
Canadian visitors, also known as snowbirds, comprise the majority of Winter Texans, although U.S. immigration laws restrict their stay of more than six months at a time.
Perri Sloan from Winnipeg (Canada) has returned to Palm Shadows for the past 12 years, minus last year’s winter, due to restrictions on border crossings. She claims that the warm tropical climate is the most appealing for her, and she’s enjoying it all.