LAREDO, TX – The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) along with the International Good Neighbor Council (IGNC) have announced their selection of the four bright young Abrazo Children who will represent the United States and Mexico during the 122nd Celebration.
“Nothing symbolizes the ties between the United States and the Republic of Mexico like the four children exchanging an abrazo, during the International Bridge Ceremony. The powerful gesture is an expression of the friendship and close ties between our two cities as well as our two nations”, said WBCA President Jay Puig.
The 2018 – 2019 Abrazo Children, representing the United States, are Riley Olivia Peregoy and Daniel B. Hastings, IV. The children representing Mexico are Miranda Montes Mendoza and Jorge Emiliano Perez Garza. The official announcement of the selection was made during a special ceremony on Thursday, August 9, 2018, at the San Agustin Ballroom at La Posada Hotel located at 1000 Zaragoza Street, the proud sponsor of the International Bridge Ceremony and the Official Hotel of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration.
Riley Olivia Peregoy, 8, is a third-grade student at St. Augustine Elementary School. She is the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Robert J. Peregoy. Riley is a member of the St. Augustine Junior Knight Dazzlers and attends the Erika Garcia Haynes School of Dance.
Riley enjoys spending time involving herself with extracurricular activities and is actively involved in community service events. Among other things, she enjoys the outdoors, and spending time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include dancing and arts and crafts with a particular love for painting.
Riley’s father has been a WBCA volunteer since 2002, WBCA Board Member since 2010 and member of the WBCA Executive Committee since 2016. Riley looks forward to continuing the family tradition of participating in the Washington’s Birthday Celebration.
Daniel B. Hastings, IV, 8, attends Trautmann Elementary School in the third grade. He is the son of Daniel B. Hastings, III and Lucy S. Hastings. Daniel is a GT “A” Honor Roll Student, some of his accomplishments include being awarded Top Scholar and Top Reader for his grade level, Spelling and Math Bee finalist, second place in UISD Arts & Exhibit, and second place in the Science Fair.
He has been a member of his school’s basketball and flag football teams for 3 years and baseball for 4 years. When he is not in the field, Daniel also enjoys hunting, having harvested his first buck at age 6, fishing, and drawing. He is a proud member of NET (Nueva Evangelizacion del Tercer Milenio), a Catholic organization focusing on spiritual growth and community service.
Daniel’s father has been a WBCA member since 2015. His mother has been a WBCA and IGNC member since 2015 and 2013, respectively. She has served as IGNC’s secretary, treasurer and is currently 2nd vice-president of the IGNC and is on the WBCA Development Team.
Miranda Montes Mendoza will represent Mexico as an Abrazo Child. Miranda, 8, attends the third grade at the Irish Institute in Nuevo Laredo. She is the daughter of Alfredo Montes Silva and Miriam Mendoza. She is a member of her school’s volleyball team and enjoys playing tennis and golf with family and friends.
Her extracurricular activities include muay thai, jiujitsu and mixed martial arts at FTC Nuevo Laedo. She enjoys dancing, singing, swimming and acrylic painting. During her free time, Miranda practices horseback riding at her grandfather’s ranch.
Miranda’s parents have been members of IGNC since 2012. Miranda looks forward to represent Mexico as an Abrazo Child for the 122nd Washington’s Birthday Celebration.
Jorge Emiliano Perez Garza is 9 years old and a fourth grade student at the Irish Institute in Nuevo Laredo. He is the son of Jorge Antonio Perez Chapa and Laura Edith Garza. He is actively involved in school activities and is a member of his school’s basketball team, as well as the BGC Basketball League.
Jorge enjoys playing basketball, baseball, and swimming and is an avid Pokémon card collector. During his free time, Jorge practices horseback riding and is part of Club Net. Jorge Emiliano enjoys helping others and is always planning games and fun activities for his siblings.
His parents have been involved with the Consejo Internacional de la Buena Vecindad since 2014 and have served as historians for the organization. Jorge is excited to be representing Mexico as an Abrazo Child for the 122nd Washington’s Birthday Celebration.
La Posada Hotel, the official host hotel of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration, is the proud sponsor of the International Bridge Ceremony for the 122nd Celebration.
“For many years, the La Posada Hotel has had the privilege of sponsoring the Abrazo Ceremony during the annual WBCA Festivities. This ceremony is truly a focal point of the annual celebration,” said Nobert Dickman, General Manager of Fasken Oil and Ranch, Ltd., the operator of the La Posada Hotel. “The bonds between the communities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo run very deep and are grounded in a common history and culture, as well as personal and family ties which remain strong even today. The touching embraces of the children representing the two cities, followed by the greetings of community leaders from each side of the border, express this common bond in the strongest possible way. The La Posada Hotel is truly honored to be the official sponsor of this event.”
The symbolic meeting of the two countries that is part of this Laredo Celebration was first established in 1898. It quickly evolved to include a ceremony where U.S. and Mexican local and military officials gathered to walk arm in arm into downtown Laredo, making it one of the longest-standing traditions of the Celebration still honored to date. In 1969, the WBCA and IGNC introduced the Abrazo Children to this symbolic event to further promote the greater awareness and understanding between the people of the Americas. The act of the four children meeting in the middle of the bridge and exchanging a heartfelt “abrazo” symbolizes friendship, goodwill, kindness and a mutual appreciation between the United States and Mexico.
After the children exchange these symbolic hugs or “abrazos,” the U.S. and Mexican dignitaries also meet their counterparts in the middle of the bridge and share the same “abrazo” gesture. This is the only time each year that an international bridge linking the two countries is formally closed to the public.
As official Ambassadors of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration, this year’s Abrazo Children will attend a number of WBCA events including the historic International Bridge Ceremony Sponsored by La Posada Hotel. The event will take place on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 7:30 a.m. on the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge.
Throughout the years, the Celebration has grown to be over a month long and consists of parades, dazzling pageants, fireworks, a carnival, an air show, a sizzling jalapeño festival and much more. Combined, WBCA events attract nearly 500,000 residents and visitors, and contributes an estimated $14 million every year to the local economy.
The Washington’s Birthday Celebration was recently ranked as one of the Top 100 Events in North America by the American Bus Association (ABA) because of the excellent entertainment value it offers to both tour groups and individual travelers from around the world.
The 122nd Washington’s Birthday Celebration takes place January 24 – February 25, 2019. Tickets for events may be purchased in early February at the WBCA TIcket Kiosk inside Mall Del Norte.
For additional information, visit www.wbcalaredo.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, contact the WBCA office at (956) 722-0589, or stop by the office located on 1819 E. Hillside Road in Laredo, TX. Also, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.