WBCA Names Parade Marshals for 120th Celebration

WBCA Names Parade Marshals for 120th Celebration

The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) has selected outstanding community individuals to lead two of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration’s most traditional and time-honored events; the IBC Youth Parade Under the Stars and the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade.

WBCA announced L&F Distributors as the 2017 Parade Marshal for the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade. The Vaswani Family and the Laredo Heat Soccer Club also received the same honor for the IBC Youth Parade Under the Stars.

“It is my honor to present L&F Distributors, a long time sponsor of the WBCA, with the title of Parade Marshal of the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade. L&F Distributors and the LaMantia Family have been great supporters of the WBCA for many years and this year marks their 25th year sponsoring the Washington’s Birthday Parade,”

said WBCA President Eddie Villarreal.

“Leading our IBC Youth Parade Under the Stars will be the Vaswani Family and the Laredo Heat Soccer Club who have been great supporters of soccer in the Laredo community. The Vaswani’s established the Laredo Heat Soccer Club and has formed and supported the youth soccer league in our community, local schools, colleges and universities. We thank them for their devoted efforts and making our youth and community a happier, safer and healthier through sports,”

Villarreal added.

The IBC Youth Parade Under the Stars, takes place Thursday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. The Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade, will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, at 9 a.m., both follow a route South on San Bernardo Avenue, to the heart of Laredo’s historic downtown district.

Started in 1978 by Joe LaMantia Jr., L&F Distributors began as a family business with a single location in McAllen, TX and less than 20 employees. Today, L&F Distributors owns eight distribution warehouses, which service 35 counties throughout Texas and Southern New Mexico, representing more than 150 craft and import breweries and an extensive list of wine and spirits, water, milk, energy drinks, and non-alcoholic beverages.

The L&F Family, with over 1,200 employees, is deeply involved in the communities in which it operates and is always proud to be a part of this great Laredo tradition that is the Washington’s Birthday Celebration.

Twenty-five years ago, L&F Distributors, in conjunction with Anheuser-Busch, partnered with the WBCA to become their first title sponsor in the history of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration. In addition to sponsoring the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade, L&F Distributors has and continues to support many other WBCA and WBCA Affiliate events.

L&F Distributors has sponsored the Jalapeño Festival for over 20 years. Additionally, L&F supports the Commander’s Reception, UETA Jamboozie, Taste of Laredo, Comedy Jam for George, the Caballero’s Cocktail Party, and the Society of Martha Washington.

STARS, a grass-roots organization founded by the LaMantia family with the goal of making higher education accessible to the students of South and West Texas, also partnered with WBCA in 2003, expanding the reach of the STARS Scholarship Fund. The Scholarship fund was founded by the LaMantia family with the intent to provide scholarships to those students needing it the most and to date, STARS has awarded $28 million dollars to over 13,500 students.

“Many things have changed in the past 25 years,”

said Steve LaMantia.

“One thing that hasn’t changed is L&F’s commitment to WBCA and to the community. WBCA has the unique distinction of being an on-going non-profit entity for 120 years, serving a very diverse community in celebration of not only George Washington but of Laredo, itself! The L&F Distributors Family is especially proud to serve as Parade Marshal of the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade along with another strong supporter of the Laredo community, the Vaswani’s and Laredo Heat Family, Parade Marshals of the IBC Youth Parade Under the Stars,”

added LaMantia.

The Vaswani Family and the Laredo Heat Soccer Club will lead the IBC Youth Parade Under the Stars, which serves as a prelude to the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade.

“There is no finer or more important investment than the investment in the youth of our community. We applaud and commend the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association for their commitment to our younger generation. We are honored and privileged to be included in the 120th Celebration and are looking forward to the IBC Youth Parade Under the Stars,”

said Shashi Vaswani on behalf of the Vaswani Family and the Laredo Heat Soccer Club.

Shashi G. Vaswani and Priya Vaswani are local business owners, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and champions of the Laredo youth.

They are the founders of the Laredo Heat Soccer Club, About Time, Inc. (ATI), and also operate several South Texas hotels and other businesses.

Born in India, Shashi and Priya moved to Texas at a very young age. Shashi started working at his family business as a youth and in 1984, when he was only 18 years old, opened his own jewelry business in Laredo. Three years later, Shashi and Priya married and took their jewelry business overseas. In 1990 they returned to the States and got involved in the video game industry, establishing About Time, which distributes video game hardware, software and accessories into the Mexican and Latin American markets. Since its inception, ATI has grown to include five warehouses across the United States.

In 2004, the Vaswani’s were granted a soccer club by the United Soccer Leagues (USL) and the Laredo Heat have operated as a member of the USL’s Premier Development League (PDL) since then and they’ve never failed to qualify for a postseason tournament, winning a national championship in 2007. The youth academy has flourished in a youth-soccer deprived region, having seen its Under-5-years-old to Under-17 teams compete and succeed in state, regional and national tournaments. Several athletes of the Laredo Heat Soccer Club and Academy have also earned college scholarships and professional contracts. About Soccer, Inc., the name of the Youth Soccer Program is a non-profit organization.

Priya and family are also passionate advocates with Make-A-Wish of Laredo. Priya is on the board with Casa de Misericordia and Vantage Bank. She and her family illustrate their self-driven investment into their community though their various work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, South Texas Academic Rising Scholars, Bethany House of Laredo, the South Texas Food Bank and many others. Priya was also recently assigned a Board seat with Laredo Medical Center.

“We thank them for all they do to make Laredo a better place to live and raise our families”,

said Villarreal.

This year’s parade theme is “Embracing Traditions.” Float entries and parade units are encouraged to find inspiration in the customs and traditions of the many faces of America from various parts of the globe. Celebrating America through the years. Show your patriotism and love of our Country. Use this opportunity to teach our children about America’s rich history and showcase all that America holds dear from her national monuments to our natural/environmental treasures from coast to coast. Be creative and colorful and show off all those things that make this country unique.

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 120th Washington’s Birthday Celebration takes place January 19 – February 20, 2017. Tickets for events may be purchased in early February at the WBCA Kiosk inside Mall Del Norte (at Macy’s Center Court).

For additional information, click on the media tab, e-mail wbca@wbcalaredo.org, contact the WBCA office at (956) 722-0589, or visit 1819 E. Hillside Road in Laredo, TX.