SPI Entertainment Tides Coming In


SPI Entertainment Tides Coming In

A Ferris wheel is now one of the Island’s newest attractions and it's there to stay.
A Ferris wheel is now one of the Island’s newest attractions and it’s there to stay.

Many of the country’s beach resorts have a place where the locals and visitors alike like to hang out. South Padre Island has its Entertainment District as well.

It’s a place with about a dozen businesses that cater to families and to those who enjoy dancing, dining, fishing or who simply like to watch the many beautiful sunsets over the usually tranquil waters of the Laguna Madre. There are also rides for the most adventurous, go carts and boat parades throughout the year.

Supporters of the Entertainment District said a boardwalk for both people’s safety and to lure more people to the area is being envisioned by some city leaders. Patrick McNulty, the city‘s mayor, said they have a number of projects aimed at improving the Island bay side.

“One project calls for rebuilding Laguna Boulevard,” he said, “which is scheduled to start in 2021-2022.”

A sand sculpture of the Ila "The Turtle Lady" Loestcher has been on display at a new exhibit in the Entertainment District.
A sand sculpture of the Ila “The Turtle Lady” Loestcher has been on display at a new exhibit in the Entertainment District.

New entertainment on the Island

He said another one is to put up new signage on the ends of the boulevard. A two- or three-block boardwalk is also in the plan from Coconut Jack’s to the Painted Marlin.

A sand castle exhibit, which was erected during the holidays, is also the newest attraction on the bay side. McNulty said a plan is now to make the exhibit a year-round attraction. Motifs will be geared to different times and seasons of the year with sculptures being replaced this month to reflect a new theme.

Another new addition has been a Ferris wheel. It was built last summer but had its lights finally put in place just recently. The mayor said the wheel is on city property, adding it has become another attraction.

He said improving the Island’s Entertainment District is for everybody’s benefit.

“It’s good for the businesses there,” he said, “and good for attracting more tourism.”

New additions, new perspectives

Visitors from the Rio Grande Valley and from other places in the country said they enjoy the attractions at the Island in addition to its beaches.

“This is our first time here,” Nebraskan Larry Randolph said. “We enjoy the atmosphere, the entertainment and the weather.”

He said his wife, Nancy, was looking for a place to travel. They soon learned that the Island has become a popular tourist destination.

“We love it,” Randolph said, while relaxing at Laguna BOB. “We are going to be here for six days.”

Zulema Figueroa, a Mercedes resident who now lives in West Virginia, said she and her husband Jim Gauchran have been coming down to the Island for about 10 years. Brownsville resident Jose Morales took his family to the Island the second weekend of January. He said they couldn’t believe all the activity and new businesses that are now on the bay side.

“I remember seeing Louie’s Backyard some years ago,” his wife Belinda said. “We have not been on this side of the Island for quite a while.”

Party goers dance the night away at Laguna BOB.
Party goers dance the night away at Laguna BOB.

Freelance journalist Tony Vindell has more than 30 years experience as a newspaper reporter. Born in Nicaragua, he studied journalism and political science at the University of Missouri-Columbia and at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. He began his career working for The Pecos Enterprise in West Texas. Vindell also worked for The Laredo News, The Brownsville Herald, Valley Morning Star, Port Isabel News Press and the Raymondville Chronicle/News. Vindell, who lives in Brownsville with his wife Sharon, enjoys hunting, fishing and traveling.