Participants dressed as aliens walk the parade route during the Texas Citrus Fiesta Parade of Oranges on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Mission. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

MISSION — Thousands of people from Mission and the surrounding communities gathered Saturday afternoon for Texas Citrus Fiesta Parade of Oranges, continuing a longstanding local tradition that’s lasted the better part of a century.

Attendees of the 83rd annual event lined South Conway Avenue in celebration of the local citrus industry, witnessing floats decorated with dried oranges and grapefruits to the theme of “Space Odyssey Adventure.”

Jesus Rodriguez of Edinburg attended the parade with his granddaughter Legacy Taylor.

“We pretty much go to all the parades here in the Valley,” Rodriguez said. “We try to, as long as it’s close by. It’s interesting today with the rockets and the NASA stuff. Usually the weather doesn’t permit it. I thought today it was going to rain, so we have missed a couple.”

Taylor said she enjoyed this year’s parade theme.

“It’s been pretty fun. It’s a tradition between us to go to all the parades,” Taylor said. “It’s pretty interesting because Star Wars just came out.”

While many have come for years, Michael Born said this year’s Citrus Fiesta was the first he’s attended.

“I had heard about it in the past, and I wanted to come out and see what it’s all about,” Born said. “I like it. I like all kinds of parades.”

Born, who’s from Wisconsin, has only been in the Rio Grande Valley for just over a month, but said he is already in love with the culture of the area.

“I like it a lot,” Born said. “I like the culture. I like the area. It’s a nice place to spend the winter.

“I don’t know that I know a lot of the history of (the parade). I know that it’s a fiesta, a festival about the citrus growing. Beyond that, I don’t know a whole lot. …This is a special thing. I’m glad to see that they have events like this here. This is great.”

Melinda Sotuyo of McAllen said she comes to the parade every year to see the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church float.

“The thing that brings me out here is Father Roy’s (Snipes) float. We always want to see what they’ve done with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church float,” Sotuyo said. “They did an awesome job. Always.”