Laredo's George Washington's Birthday Celebration

February is the month of love--so there’s no better time of year to celebrate the bond between Texas and Mexico. Perhaps nowhere else along the border is that relationship celebrated with a bigger party than in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

Much of the month of February is spent in party mode in these sister cities which are separated only by the Rio Grande. Whether you go for the fiesta fun, as a winter break to enjoy Laredo’s sunny weather, or on a quick shopping excursion, you’ll find yourself quickly falling in love with these nearby communities, located at the south end of I-35.


What the reason for February’s Texas-sized party? It’s none other than George Washington’s Birthday! The country’s largest celebration of the first president’s birthday spans nearly three weeks. With over a half a million partygoers, this event offers everything from grand galas to child-friendly carnivals to fiery foods. And, at the heart of all the festivities, is the international goodwill which this event celebrates.

The origin of this festival dates back to 1898, when a Laredo organization staged a mock battle for possession of the city. The historic event culminated in an unconditional surrender when the Mayor gave the key to the city to “Great Chief Sachem,” who then handed it to “Pocahontas,” representing lost tradition. And just where does George Washington fit into this picture? Coincidentally, Washington was code named "Sachem" during his freedom fighting days when the Sons of Liberty disguised themselves as Native Americans. Because of the Sachem connection, the organization picked the president’s birthday as the date of the annual event.

Over the years, the festival grew, today holding the position as the largest event in South Texas. Every year brings more activities and celebrations to the calendar but tradition still reigns when it comes to the festival’s extravagant balls. Recalling the role of that “Pocahontas” in the first celebration, today’s 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.

And one of the longest running events is also one of the festival’s most touching: the International Bridge Ceremony. Recognizing the love of the two cities, the event begins 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.

For more on Washington’s Birthday Celebration, call 956-722-0589 or see

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