MISSION—From the very first celebration held in 1932, the Texas Citrus Fiesta has been a grand event with King Citrus and Queen Citrianna reigning over the various Fiesta activities. Over the years, Fiesta traditions have become mainstays for the community – especially for those who have shared a role in the festivities.
One of the time-honored traditions of Fiesta is the important role of the 6-year-old boys who serve as crown bearer and trainbearers for the ceremonial Royal Coronation.
It’s quite a responsibility for their young shoulders to carry. And age often overcomes propriety turning into antics during the grand ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance. It has become a source of entertainment and delight over the years for the audience – except perhaps a worrisome mother or two.
This year’s crew began this week practicing their moves – just two weeks prior to the coronation where they will share the stage with the Royal Court.
Jean Prewett works with these young charges each year, choreographing steps and explaining their important roles in a very formal setting.
The difficult task is how to teach a 6 year old with pent-up energy to take slow steps while bowing and holding onto the royal court’s crowns and Queen Citrianna’s massive train. Despite their young age, the boys understand the importance of their roles.
Prewett shares the enthusiasm the boys feel for the job they have to do.
“In all my years with Citrus Fiesta, I’ve never met a boy who was not excited to be a bearer…they all love it,” she said.
The selection process of a crown or trainbearer begins with the Citrus Fiesta Royal Court. If any previous Kings Citrus have grandsons that would like to participate, they are in the forerunning – a privilege of royalty and longtime dedication to the citrus industry. If there are still spaces to fill, then bearers are found within the community.
The parents agree the opportunity to have a son become one of the bearers is an honor that allows their child to participate in a tradition they hold dear.
Crown bearer Kyle Russell Gerlach comes from a long line of Citrus Fiesta participants. Marissa Gerlach, Kyle’s mother, explained her husband Scott Gerlach had been a trainbearer as well.
“It has been a tradition with my husband’s family that we plan to continue throughout our life…We enjoy helping out in community events,” she said. “Kyle has been participating since he was in my belly.”
Another mother, Carmen Jessica Muñoz, explained as a Mission native there was always the dream to participate in the Royal Court.
“Growing up here, I always wanted to be Queen Citrianna and be in the events,” Muñoz said. “As soon as I had a boy, I was excited because I knew I would want him to participate.”
Rene De La Cruz, grandfather of trainbearer Davion Andres Lawton, said Davion would experience meeting other people and break habits of shyness.
“This is a great opportunity to not be shy…also, as you grow older you want to participate and be involved with your community,” De la Cruz said. “He (Davion) is very excited and looking forward to being a trainbearer.”
During their practice, the boys were given specific instructions on behavior, choreography and how their role was crucial to the success of the presentations. The group chattered in excitement, understanding every bow and lift helps out the Royal Court.
Over the years, Prewett said they have understood when dealing with such a young set of children there are bound to be mishaps. After all, boys will be boys.
“We’ve had one boy who fell asleep…one year, my grandson laid out and had his belly showing throughout the presentation,” Prewett said.
The boys are scheduled to participate in the Royal Reception this Saturday, the Royal Coronation of King Citrus and Queen Citrianna on Jan. 24 and the Parade of Oranges on Jan. 26.
While the boys practiced for the appearances, young Enriquecarlos Sabastiannicolai Muñoz was determined the whole team of bearers would work together to help the Royal Court.
After being told they would have to help carry the queen’s heavy train, Enrquecarlos assured the others, “I don’t know how many pounds (the train) is…but I’m going to carry it.”
All of their shoulders will grow a little stronger with the responsibility they’ll carry and the memories they’ll make by participating in a time-honored tradition of their hometown.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.