Second Wave of Winter Texans Fills RV Parks
There are essentially two Winter Texan seasons: the one before Christmas and the Second Wave.
According to a report in The Monitor, McAllen, RVers have nearly filled most of the larger parks and are expected to stay until their normal trek back north in mid-March or early April. At those parks, waiting lists for January were common before Christmas, though most of the lists have cleared as the season hits its stride.
While there is some anecdotal evidence that overall RV business is slightly down from what it was three or five years ago, the major parks are booming, as are smaller ones with long histories and caring owners.
Paradise Park in McAllen, for example, rents 45 of its 330 spaces each year. The other 285 of those are owned and occupied year-round. Park treasurer Marty Gebauer noted, “I’ve got two lots that don’t have anybody on them, and we only had three cancellations because of death or sickness.”
Activities, he says, “have filled the calendar,” including such offbeat items as jam sessions with dulcimers. His only complaint: Hidalgo County and the city of McAllen have raised taxes $29,600 to a combined total of $94,636 – a 40% increase in a single year. He’ll cover the new tab largely by raising fees and “creative borrowing.”
At Bentsen Palm Village RV park in Mission, which offers 245 spaces, Maryann Bradley reports “no room left in the park” and that activities schedules, including jam sessions, are crammed and humming. Margarita Wednesdays in Bentsen Village’s clubhouse typically draw 80 to 90 people.
Zack Krieger, owner of tiny Green Haven Mobile Park, 26 spaces, eight miles north of Edinburg, says his park is full year-round. His RVers include oil company workers with wallets fattened by $100-a-barrel crude.
“We keep the park real nice,” he says. “That’s how we hang onto our customers.”
Bonnie Sell and her husband, Dan, manage Magic Valley RV Park in Weslaco, where she reports their 420 spaces 93.7% claimed. “We keep track of it every day,” she says. “It’s wonderful.”
The difference she notices this year is that RVers are more transient – they move in, stay three or four days or a week, then move on to their next destination, instead of staying in a single park for the entire season.
“They’re not just shooting to their destination park, they’re trying different parks,” she says. “There’s a lot more rotation this year.”
None of the parks’ people seemed worried about the possibility of recession, which is playing a more prominent part in the news and on the presidential campaign trail in particular. Rising prices of gasoline and diesel fuel seem to have had no impact, but the weak U.S. dollar has, and positively – especially with Canadians, who make up about 10% of Valley Winter Texans and whose dollars can now buy more.