(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Some students from Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology and Workforce Training and Continuing Education programs recently participated in the annual Charro Days parade in Brownsville.
The students waved to the crowd from a large flatbed-trailer float that featured models of utility poles decorated with traditional Mexican “papel picado.” Some of them wore sombreros, hard hats or cowboy hats.
Charro Days is a weeklong fiesta celebrated in Brownsville in late February that commemorates the Mexican heritage of Brownsville and Matamoros residents. It is named in honor of the “Charro,” a dashing Mexican gentleman cowboy. As part of the celebration, many residents and visitors dress in the traditional costumes of Mexico.
TSTC Electrical Lineworker students Jose Benavidez, Manuel Lerma and Javier Morales each have a personal connection to the festival as area residents.
Benavidez, who is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree, recalled his childhood memories of the festivities.
“I experienced Charro Days with my family during my youth,” he said. “We went to have a great time, enjoy food, and see everyone who participated in the parade. Now, as an adult, I feel that I can be an inspiration as a future electrical lineworker for children who are watching from the crowd.”
Lerma is pursuing a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology in the program. He also experienced the festival with his family as a child.
“I remember that people were proud to express their culture,” he said. “It feels great to participate because I’ve always wanted to. After the parade, my grandfather said he was proud to see me representing Brownsville.”
Morales is an Air Force veteran who participated in Charro Days as a student in elementary, middle and high school.
“When I performed in elementary, we stopped to dance in front of parade-goers,” he said. “In middle school, I performed with the school’s band. And in high school, I represented as a member of the ROTC battalion. As an adult, it’s interesting to see that evolution.”
Robert Ramirez, statewide lead of TSTC’s Professional Driving Academy, said the experience was rewarding as a first-time participant.
“It was fantastic to see the crowd waving at us on the TSTC float,” he said. “Our group representing TSTC’s Workforce Training program was proud to be a part of this tradition.”
Cledia Hernandez, associate vice chancellor for External Relations and Workforce Development, said TSTC was honored to celebrate the event with its students and the community.
“Charro Days celebrates the customs and rich traditions that are at the core of our culture,” she said. “We are proud to showcase our TSTC spirit at this cultural event.”
For more information on Charro Days, go to charrodaysfiesta.com.
For more information about TSTC, go to tstc.edu.