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Abrazo held on International Bridge brings border towns together

By Judith Mae Aguilar
On April 2, 2015

After a month long celebration, the 118th Washington’s Birthday Celebration came to a close with the premiere event that unites Laredo with its sister city in Mexico, Nuevo Laredo. The International Bridge Ceremony, held February 21, 2015 on an early and crisp Saturday morning, brings delegates from a local, state, national and even international level who come together in a ceremonial abrazo, or hug, that unites the two nations. Presiding over the ceremony this year was Texas A&M International University’s President Dr. Ray M. Keck III.

Before the event commenced, the invited guests gathered at the San Agustin Church near Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge. Once all were present, they marched to the cadence of the United States Custom and Border Protection Honor Guard Drum and Bagpipe Corps. Upon reaching the bridge, the crowd waited patiently as the American delegates matched with their Mexican counterpart standng on the opposite end of the bridge. At the firing of a flare gun, both sides began to come together at the center of the bridge.

Dr. Keck began with an explanation of the significance of the ceremony as a symbol of friendship, appreciation, and mutual respect shared by the two nations. After the singing of the two respective national anthems, the speakers — including guest speaker Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, R. Gil Kerlikowske — stepped up to the podium in mutual agreement to the honor the highly significant rite.

After the speeches, four specially-selected children, two from Laredo and two from Nuevo Laredo, met in the middle of the bridge exchanging the flags of the U.S. and Mexico and hugs, the celebrated “Abrazo”. Afterwards, the delegates representing parallel offices also met at the middle of the bridge to exchange flags and mutual esteem.

At the end of the ceremony, delegates from Mexico joined their U.S. counterparts to another of the ultimate observances of the WBCA festival, the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade. It was here that floats and marchers from local and surrounding areas came together to celebrate the end of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration. A perennial favorite of the many elegantly decorated floats was the Society of Martha Washington’s debutantes in their elaborate dresses, who, at the request of the crowd, showed the wild footwear they hid under their dress.

TAMIU was represented by the Dance Club dancing ahead of a float that signifying the diversity found at our university. Students, some in their national dress, waved from atop the float along with the recently crowned Mr. and Ms. TAMIU, Miguel San Miguel and Yadira Ramirez.

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