A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 19, 2008
Home of the Grapefruit (Mission slogan)

The city of Mission in the Rio Grande Valley has been advertised as the “Home of the Grapefruit” since 1921. In 1932, the annual Texas Citrus Fiesta was started in Mission. Mission and the areas around the city are known for the Ruby Red and Star Ruby grapefruits.


Wikipedia: Mission, Texas
Mission is a city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. The population was 45,408 at the 2000 census. It is one of the principal cities of the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Hidalgo County.
(...)
Mission, TX is the home of the ruby red grapefruit. The city holds an annual parade along Conway Avenue called the Citrus Parade, which features fruit-decorated floats, bands, law enforcement agencies, and fire departments.

Handbook of Texas Online
MISSION, TEXAS. Mission, known as the “tourist mecca of South Texas,” is in southwestern Hidalgo County on U.S. Highway 83, the Missouri Pacific line, and State Highway 107. It is 3½ miles north of the Rio Grande, four miles northeast of Anzalduas County Park, five miles northeast of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Scenic Park, and twenty-three miles northwest of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. It is midway between the beaches of South Padre Island and International Falcon Reservoir. Mission lies between 100 and 143 feet above sea level in the wide agricultural delta of the Rio Grande. It is known as the home of the grapefruit.
(...)
The Citrus Fiesta began in 1932 and in the 1980s was held in the last week in January; it salutes the Ruby Red and Star Ruby grapefruits.

Handbook of Texas Online
CITRUS FIESTA. The Citrus Fiesta is a two-week festival held annually in Mission to publicize the citrus industry of the region and to attract visitors. It occurs in December or January, depending on the harvest season. It was started by John H. Shary in the late 1920s. A royal court chosen from prominent valley families includes King Citrus, Queen Citrianna, the Princess of Orange Blossom, the Princess of Grapefruit Blossom, a lady-in-waiting, Princess Anna (who must be six years old), and her attendants, the Princess of Lime Blossom and the Princess of Lemon Blossom. The king’s and queen’s attendants include the royal crown bearer and four train bearers for the queen’s train, which can be up to twenty feet long. Twenty-two duchesses are selected from valley communities. Crowns are designed for each new king, queen, and fiesta theme. The queen’s gown was originally made of by-products from citrus plants.

The first annual fiesta was held in 1932 with the theme “Coronation and Pageant of Citrus.” The one-day celebration included a coronation ceremony with Shary as King Citrus I and citrus exhibits, fruit-packing contests, a flying circus, a football game, and a parade. By 1934 the fiesta was expanded to two days with the addition of the Fiesta Style Show and the Fruit, Vegetable, and Flower Style Show, which features costumes made from local agricultural products. In 1936 the Texas Citrus Fiesta was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization. By 1939 the celebration included an air show and a one-day school holiday so that Mission children could participate in the first day of the festival. In 1941 Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr., was crowned king and the theme was “The Rio Grande Valley Serves America;” that year the tourist parade was introduced. From 1942 to 1946 the fiesta was cancelled due to World War II. In 1948 the Ex-Kings Association was formed and given the duty of selecting the new king. The following year the Texas Citrus Fiesta got its own building, and by 1950 it was underwritten by the Mission City Merchants and became self-supporting. The fiesta continued to become more elaborate through the 1950s, and in 1961 there was an unsuccessful attempt to move it to McAllen. C. B. Curtis carved a new queen’s scepter out of an orange branch in 1963, and it became the first year that the Queen’s gown was required to be all white and no longer had to be citrus products. By 1970 the Texas Citrus Fiesta had become a week-long celebration with a multitude of events, including skeet-shooting tournaments and the international motorcycle races.

By 1982 the Fruit, Vegetable, and Flower Style Show had been renamed the Product Costume Show to allow the use of other natural products as cover on costumes. The devastating freeze of 1983 that killed half the producing trees in the valley led to changes in the fiesta. The Parade of Oranges floats were allowed to be covered by natural products other than citrus, and the Products Style Show allowed the use of ashes and sawdust from destroyed trees. By 1989 the fiesta had been expanded to two weeks. Added to original activities and events were the Fiesta Fun Fair, which included the Little Fest for children, a petting zoo, and local food specialties.

Welcome to Mission, Texas
Home of the Grapefruit! 

7 September 1921, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Mission Signs Erected,” pg. 9, col. 7:
Mission, Tex., Sept. 7.—Mission, “The Home of the Grapefruit” is the guide from here to San Antonio, and from here to Corpus Christi. T.  B. Sammons, C. J. Field and E. W. Keyes returned Monday morning after a trip to San Antonio and Corpus Christi, erecting these signs. This work was planned and financed by the business men’s league, and the first extensive advertising done by any of the towns of the valley. The signs, although expensive, are unique and attractive.

7 December 1921, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. 11, col. 4:
MISSION, Tex., Dec. 6.—Mission auto tourists’ camp is now being enjoyed by the many valley travelers. On the west and south are entrances with large sign billboards in the white and orange colors of Mission, “The Home of the Grapefruit.”

5 December 1924, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. 4A, col. 3 headline:
MISSION-SHARYLAND TRACT IS HOME OF THE GRAPEFRUIT

OCLC WorldCat record
The plain facts about Mission, Texas : home of the grapefruit.
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: [S.l. : s.n., 1925?]

OCLC WOrldCat record
The home of the grapefruit “tip o’ Texas” : see it and stay
by E.M. Goodwin Inc.
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: [Mission, Tex.? : E.M. Goodwin Inc., 1929?]

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, June 19, 2008 • Permalink