Welcome Back Wednesday celebrates Winter Texans
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Dawson Williams and his wife, Bertha, settled down for a barbecue dinner Wednesday evening. Their short-sleeved shirts were a far cry from the coats and scarves they would wear if still in their native Illinois.
"It's a little colder up there," Bertha Williams said. "Once you retire, you want to get away from that stuff."
The couple, known among friends as Butch and Berdie, were among the 200 or so people who visited Club Westerner for the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau's second annual Welcome Back Wednesday.
The event, a dinner and dance, is a chance to thank Winter Texans who call Victoria home for a few months of the year, said Bridgette Bise, the bureau's executive director.
Although Victoria boasts more than 500 RV spots, space was at a premium this year, Bise said, explaining about 40 percent are taken up by people in the oil and gas industry.
Tania Ganauser owns the Lazy Longhorn RV Park and said her park was full this year.
"That's pretty normal, but we have a very long waiting list this time around," she said, adding about 60 percent of the park's sites are taken up by Winter Texans. "As soon as someone leaves, that spot's taken."
Greenwich, Ohio residents Dorothy and Jim Nichols have ventured to Victoria for the past 20 years because their daughter lives in town. They pulled into Gateway to the Gulf RV Park Jan. 2 and don't plan to leave until April 1, Dorothy Nichols said.
While in Victoria, the duo shops and goes to the movies but, most of all, visits with family.
"That's why we come," she said. "But the people are great. We have a good time."
The Williamses also have family in Texas, which is one reason they settled on Victoria this year.
Another reason? Dawson Williams, a former truck driver who drove to Texas at least once a week, said he simply enjoys the Lone Star State.
"I like it here," he said, smiling at his wife. "And I can't get her to move away from home. So we decided on this."