George Washington’s Birthday Celebration, Laredo, Texas

When: mid-January to mid-February

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george washington birthday celebration laredo

Photos courtesy
Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau

January and February make the perfect time for a visit to Laredo thanks to the annual George Washington’s Birthday celebration. This is one of South Texas’s largest festivals with over 400,000 attendees. Sporting events, a children's carnival, dances, parades, and gala balls fill the month-long event with revelry.

How It Began

Starting in 1898, the George Washington Birthday Celebration began as a way to spread international goodwill between the neighboring countries. It all began when a Laredo men's organization, the Red Men and the White men, held a mock battle representing a fight for possession of the city, culminating in an unconditional surrender when the Mayor gave the key to the city to Great Chief Sachem.

How does this relate to George Washington? Coincidentally, the American leader was named Sachem by the Sons of Liberty when they disguised themselves as Indians during their battle for freedom. Because of this, the Laredo organization picked the first president's birthday as the occasion for the remembrance of this event.

WBCA Today

Today’s celebration includes several major events:

• WBCA Carnival

• the WBCA Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular

• the Anheuser-Bush Washington’s Birthday Parade

• street parties

• pageants. For all its fun, food, and fireworks, the event is also noted because of its elegant balls. The Princess Pocahontas Pageant and Ball features Laredo debutantes wearing Native American regalia, with some gowns taking as long as two years to research and prepare. The Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant and Ball, one of the largest social events in South Texas, draws many spectators.

For all its gaiety, however, there is a serious side to this event, and that is evidenced at the International Bridge Ceremony, beginning with a symbolic abrazo or hug when two Laredo children embrace two Nuevo Laredo youths; leaders from the two cities then follow and unite on the international bridge. The event continues with the playing of both national anthems and the remembrance of the friendship between the two nations. The ceremony is followed by a spectacular parade.

Jalapeño Festival

One of the biggest events during the celebration is the Jalapeño Festival, now over a century old. The two-day event (nicknamed the “Hottest Weekend of the Year”) features plenty of literally mouthwatering food served with plenty of live music. Events range from the La Costeña Jalapeño Eating Contest to a jalapeño pizza eating contest to the popular International Waiters Race, where waiters from both sides of the border race a course while balancing a tray a bottle of champagne and a set of glasses.

For More Information:

• call 956-722-0589
• visit www.wbcalaredo.org
• contact the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-361-3360

 

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