Francisco E. Jimenez

Francisco E. Jimenez is a multimedia and general assignments reporter for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956)683-4433, or at

Floats, festivities color Holiday Parade

An estimated hundreds of thousands of people attended this year’s McAllen Holiday Parade here at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday, joining past and present Dallas Cowboys football players and cheerleaders, international television personalities, the Budweiser Clydesdales and local high school marching bands. Officials estimate that at least 200,000 people attended this year’s parade, which included a notable police presence in addition to several helicopters circling overhead. “We have our air operations as part of our overall plan,” said McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, who referred to the heavy law enforcement presence as a part of the department’s routine operational planning at every holiday parade. “Obviously we have various objectives that we attempt to achieve for the security planning for this particular event.” Read the full story at

Edinburg first responders host Straps Stars basketball team

The Edinburg police and fire departments hosted the First Responders Match-Up on Saturday at the Edinburg Parks and Wellness Center. The event featured the Straps Stars, a basketball team based out of San Antonio that’s composed of players who are in wheelchairs, competing against members of the local police and fire departments. The team, made up of teenagers from different parts of South and Central Texas, has competed in tournaments throughout the state, as well as other parts of the United States. It was at one of these tournaments in New Braunfels that the idea to host the team in Edinburg came about. Read the full story at

Mission man facing 18 counts in child sex abuse case

A Mission man facing 18 counts, in two separate cases, of aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child was arraigned here Wednesday morning. Wearing shackles and an orange jumpsuit, Luis Nava Jr., 53, was taken before Judge Letty Lopez in the 389th District Court on charges dating as far back as early 2000. Nava, who is known to be a painter in the Mission area, is facing three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, seven counts of sexual assault of a child and eight counts of indecency with a child sexual abuse, totaling $700,000 in total bonds.

A hand up: Single mother looking for work struggles to make ends meet

Sitting outside her family’s modest RV, 15-year-old Cassandra San Juan contemplated a question that gets asked of children on a regular basis around Christmastime: Have you thought about what you would like for Christmas? Hunched over in her chair, San Juan stays quiet for a moment. Then she shrugs her shoulders. “Not anymore,” she said, fighting back tears as her mother, Maria Hinojosa, embraced her in a tight hug. “It’s alright, mama, we’ll be OK,” Maria said as she, too, begins to hold back tears. Read the full story at

Locally owned establishments gauge Small Business Saturday traffic

While Black Friday has become a staple for many people attempting to get an early start on their holiday shopping, Small Business Saturday continues to present an opportunity for those looking for something unique, while helping the mom and pop businesses. One such business that participated in Small Business Saturday is Kaboom Comics, located at 3525 N. 10th St. in McAllen. Roy Saenz is the manager at the comic book store, and said that it has definitely seen an influx of customers over the weekend. Read the full story at

Annual sale showcases work of local crafters

Volunteers with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Master Craft held a craft sale Saturday at the Edinburg Activity Center, where dozens of local artists displayed their crafty creations. Adriana Cantu, vice president of the organization, described the fifth event as more of a fair that was borne out of a weekly gathering of like-minded people. “We’re a group of women that get together every Tuesday at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension,” she said of the organization’s members. “We help teach other people to learn how to sew and do crafts so they can start a small business or work from their house.” Read the full story at

UTRGV treats international students to Thanksgiving meals — the first for some

Shamim Hasan is far from home. The 27-year-old mechanical engineering major is finishing up his first semester at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As a native of Bangladesh, Hasan had never experienced a Thanksgiving meal, until Tuesday. UTRGV held its fifth annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon for international students, who were treated to a meal that has become a tradition in American culture, including turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, stuffing and pie at the UTRGV ballroom. Read the full story at

Brownsville filmmaker to hold viewing for horror film

What has long been a dream for one local filmmaker actually began with a nightmare. Alcario Cary Cadena, originally of Los Angeles, will be hosting a film viewing for his new horror thriller, “The House on 13th Street,” which he filmed in Brownsville. The viewing will also feature live music and appearances from the director and some of the cast. Read the full story at

Seventh annual Tamale Fest brings flavor to McAllen

As the sun began to set, more people began to fill the square here at Archer Park, where the seventh annual Tamale Fest was held Saturday. The sound of salsa music filled the air as hundreds of people roamed the numerous booths and food vendors. While providing a family friendly atmosphere, the event also helps benefit the Boys & Girls Club of McAllen. Read the full story at

Hermanos & Pies encourages dialogue between different faiths

There will be a dialogue between some of the Rio Grande Valley’s faith leaders over some Thanksgiving pies on Monday, and the public is welcome. The event, called Hermanos & Pies, will feature Bishop Daniel Flores, Rabbi Claudio J. Kogan, Imam Noor Ahmad and Pastor Julio Guarneri. These discussions originated in 2013 between Flores and Kogan as a way for the community to ask questions about anything in particular. Read the full story at