Thursday, February 05, 2009

Recession hasn't cooled fun for Winter Texans

At Victoria Palms, retirees can lounge by the pool and listen to a 77-year-old DJ's collection of Bobby Vinton and Fats Domino, cruise palm-lined streets on bicycles, take dance lessons or perfect crafts in one of the many workshops. And like many of the Valley's more than 500 “Winter Texan” parks, it's 100 percent full.

Personnel at the parks worried the summer's high gas prices and the fall's plunging economy would make for a bad year. Instead, they find themselves turning people away.

The “no vacancy” signs aren't just in the Rio Grande Valley, which gets 100,000 or more Winter Texans each year who pump more than $600 million into the local economy. The Concan-based Texas Association of Campground Owners said parks across the state are reporting a robust season despite fluctuating fuel prices, stark market dives and concerns about the economy.

Doug Shearer, association president, said his Parkview Riverside RV Park, along the Frio River in the Hill Country, is packed. So are the two parks in the Woodlands area north of Houston owned by Gwen Craig and Mac McLaughlin's Hatch RV Park in Corpus Christi.
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