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San Elizario

By: Stacey Welsh

SAN ELIZARIO, Texas -- Members of the San Elizario Geneology and Historical Society are questioning the concept of the First Thanksgiving event in San Elizario.

"We don't really want to get in that argument. What we want to do is promote the history of San Elizario. We want to promote the history that it has created in the area, and that's why we're talking about it today," San Elizario Geneology and Historical Society President Al Borrego said.

Both the Mission Trail Association and the Historical Society celebrate the Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Onate and his people arriving more than 400 years ago and taking possession of the land, holding mass and other events.

However, Mission Trail Association leaders said they want to continue calling an annual three-day event commemorating that history the First Thanksgiving Festival.

"We're not arguing with the folks at Plymouth Rock. We're not arguing with anybody else about who's first. What we're trying to do is say it's our first Thanksgiving here on the border," Mission Trail Association Vice President Michael Lewis said.

Borrego said he and other members of the Historical Society would like to change the concept to The Birthplace of the American Southwest. He said visitors could question the first Thanksgiving concept, possibly putting San Elizario in a bad light.

On the other hand, the Mission Trail Association said thousands of people attend the festival every year, and changing the name could affect the event, which boosts the local economy.

"This is the largest event for San Elizario. As San Elizario emerges as their own city, and San Elizario emerges as a tourist destination, literally thousands, tens of thousands of people could come from all over the place," Lewis said.

Some residents said they don't want the concept to change.

"It's something that we believe in. It's something that has helped the community, and that's our history," San Elizario resident Leticia Miranda said.

In the meantime, the Mission Trail Association said it will continue to promote April's festival as it has in the past. Borrego said the Historical Society will continue discussing the possible change.