Christmas in Parque Central

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The mayor and DIF Mazatlán have a terrific new offering for all of us this Christmas season: an interactive light show set to music on Avenida de la Bahía (formally Avenida Mazatlán), facing Central Park one block off the malecón behind the Olas Altas Inn. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The show debuted tonight as city residents and tourists were treated to The Nutcracker ballet performed for free in the open air. Hundreds of people were in attendance, including loads of families with small children ready to start the holiday season off with a bit of joy and merriment. Vendors sold salchichas and balloons to make sure they would benefit from the crowd and earn some money to buy their family’s presents.

The ballet was to have been preceded by the “spectacle of lights,” which was the reason most of the people were there—despite our terrific orchestra, dancers and chorus. All week the lighting guy has been setting up the electric Christmas trees and rehearsing to make sure tonight’s light show complete with fireworks, planned for 6:00 pm, would function well. It would have been terrific, too, as the full moon rose directly over the lighted tree display.

Apparently something malfunctioned even after all that preparation, and the audience wasn’t able to enjoy the show until the intermission of the ballet. By that time scores of families had left: disappointed, grumbling and sad.

The Christmas tree light show is enjoyable and worth a visit, especially if you have family or friends in town, have not yet walked the new mini-malecón—which we love, or  you are looking to get into the Christmas spirit. Greg’s terrific cell phone video of the show is below.

Four shows will be held every evening from now through the New Year at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 pm. Each show lasts about 20 minutes. The fireworks were only for tonight’s event, as far as I know.

Happy Holidays!

30th Annual Chicken Breakfast!

Cuando es más grande el corazón que la necesidad

Each year for over thirty years Yolanda Medina, her family and friends have fed the neediest of Mazatlán’s families at Christmas time in what is called “The Chicken Breakfast/Desayuno de los Pollos.” A multicultural group of Mazatlecos, Canadians and Americans have fed 2500 families/year, including a whole chicken, pantry items that last about a week, gently used clothing, bedding, coats, shoes and new toys.

THIS SATURDAY December 7th is the annual fundraiser breakfast. Tickets are 250 pesos and include a ticket for the raffle. The breakfast will be held at the Cruise Ship Dock, API, in front of the OXXO on Av. Gabriel Leyva. Start time is 8:30 am and it usually continues till about 11 am. Please join us! For tickets contact me, Jeanette Leraand, or Jorge Medina (speaks English well) on his mobile, (669) 110-0744. You can purchase tickets at the door.

In addition to the breakfast and raffle there is a Christmas Bazaar, bake sale and silent auction. If you are unable to attend, please make a donation! 100% of the money goes DIRECTLY to the needy; we are all volunteers. If you have items to donate for our silent auction or bazaar, please contact me at 118-4114.

The gifting process is labor-intensive, but we want to reach Mazatlán’s neediest, and sometimes that’s not easy to do. We go out to the squatter colonies and visit each and every shack, to verify that the families are living there (some just put a house up in hopes of eventually getting free land) and to be sure we reach the elderly, handicapped and home-bound. Many of these families live in “homes” made of sticks or pallets covered with garbage bags or tarps, as they have no where else to go. Most do not have running water, electric or gas. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The whole chickens we hand out normally are not roasted for Christmas dinner, as we might imagine, as these people have no ovens. The happy recipients usually boil the chicken in a pot over an open fire, and occasionally rotisserie it over an open flame. We serve elderly people whose children have abandoned them, unwed mothers with babies who’ve been kicked out of their homes, people on crutches, in wheelchairs, the blind and deaf. It is heartbreaking to see how these people live, and it completely makes Christmas to be able to help out a bit.

Please join us, donate bazaar or silent auction items or monetary support (you can donate money here). You can download a gift certificate here.

Also you are MOST welcome to join in early on the morning of December 24th to experience a WONDERFUL Christmas Eve morning by helping us hand out the food and clothing. Prior to Christmas, you can donate gently used clothing, blankets, coats, shoes or new toys. Drop off is at Quince Letras, Jorge Medina’s wrought iron workshop on Francisco Villa just down from the corner of Tampico. Detailed information can be found here.

 

Bless You All!

DSC_0107padreehijaOne whole chicken costs about 70 pesos. Today in the silent auction for the Desayuno de los Pollos/Chicken Breakfast YOU all helped us raise 22,500 pesos. That equals 322 chickens that will feed as many families! And that does not include the money raised by the breakfast itself, the bazaar, bake sale, gumball guessing and your donations!!! This year, for the first time ever, we added a LIVE AUCTION.

Many of the people we serve live in homes made of black garbage bags, recycled vinyl banners, or the occasional plywood. We completely make their Christmas holiday by giving them the chicken for a Christmas dinner, foodstuff/despensas for a couple of weeks, and second-hand bedding or kitchen items.

P1120977 pink ladies

There are SOOO many individuals we want to thank for helping us sell tickets and collect auction items. Special thanks this year to Jeanette and Emery Leraand, as always, Denise Thomson, the awe-inspiring Sue Parker, and our four goddaughters, the Hernandez sisters, among MANY more! Hundreds of people enjoyed the morning, with so many smiling, winning faces.

Please join us in thanking those businesses that supported this effort, by patronizing them and letting them know you appreciate their civic-mindedness:

  1. Athina Spa
  2. Aroma Spa
  3. Banda El Recodo
  4. Banda El Limón La Arolladora
  5. Barbie Dolls—Vintage Collectibles—from Helen James and Brenda Millirons
  6. Casa Canobbio
  7. Casa Etnika
  8. Casa Lucila
  9. Diamonds and Gem in the Pacific
  10. F.I.S.H.
  11. Gaia Bistrot
  12. Gregory Webb, art by Viejo Castro
  13. Gwen Tegart, handmade quilt
  14. Johnny Gunshots
  15. Marina Mazatlán Golf
  16. La Mona del Astillero
  17. Mazatlán Comedy Club
  18. Pedro y Lola
  19. Quince Letras Wrought Iron
  20. Sonrisas Calendar and Hand-crocheted Bag from Lynne Hopkins de Hernandez
  21. Sylvia Felix Painting
  22. Thru Di’s Eyes Photography
  23. Tippy Toes
  24. Venados de Mazatlán
  25. Villa Italia
  26. Vittore Restaurant

You can still make a donation by clicking on the “donate” button on the right side of this website, or contacting us. Join us the morning of December 24th to hand out the goodies, or the 10 days prior to pack up foodstuff. See you then!

Chicken Breakfast 2018!!!

 

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Kids charming the camera woman while they line up for candy!

I’m excited to announce the Chicken Breakfast (Desayuno de los Pollos) for 2018! Mark your calendars now for Saturday, December 8th at the API (cruise ship) dock. Help us feed 2500-300 families for two weeks during the holidays. Tickets are 200 pesos for the full breakfast, Christmas bazaar, bake sale, silent auction and raffles. We’d love it if you’d help us sell breakfast tickets! Contact Yolanda at (669) 431-4529, Jorge at (669) 110-0744, or me (dianne@vidamaz.com). We’d also love you to help collect items for the silent auction. Download a gift certificate for restaurant meals, hotel stays, airfares, or donate your artwork or cool gift item!

Also set aside the morning of December 24th to hand out the food, clothing and toys in Mazatlán’s poorest colonias! Begin collecting your items for donation now—gently used household items, sheets, towels, blankets, coats, shoes, clothes, new toys. You can also donate money, 100% of which goes to help those in need.

More details on the 29th annual event follow.

What is the “Chicken Breakfast?”
It is a two-step process to feed the neediest in our community.

First is a fundraising breakfast held in early December to raise money to buy one whole chicken and ten days’ worth of food for each family—we buy for as many families as we possibly can.

Second, on Christmas Eve morning (24 December), dozens of us gather together to load trucks and go out to the invasiones, the poorest, “squatter” areas of Mazatlán, to make people happy and hand out the goods! We give the chickens and foodstuffs, plus gently used clothing, linens, shoes, coats, and new toys and candy.

It is important to know that several of us go out to the squatter areas the week before Christmas. There we meet with area leaders and go around with them to hand out tickets, to ensure that those in need receive what they need, and that no one cheats or “double dips.” We especially want to ensure that we get food and clothes to the elderly and the disabled, so we go door to door to make sure everyone knows about the event, and to make plans to get things to those who can’t walk to the delivery site.

The history:

Yolanda Medina’s daughter, María Yolanda, was very sick. She and her husband kept vigil in the hospital, taking care of all their daughter’s needs. As Yoly’s sister-in-law Isa tells the story:

“It was Christmas Eve 1990, and María Yolanda’s days were counted. Yolanda and her late husband, Modesto, were in no mood to eat, let alone have a Christmas Dinner with all the fixings. But that night, a woman knocked on the hospital room door and peeked to see if there was someone with the patient. She came in to hand Yolanda and Modesto a box with a hot Christmas Dinner meal — and told them Merry Christmas and that God was with them. Yolanda never forgot that gesture.

After María Yolanda passed away, Yolanda got us all together and told us what had happened. So, the first couple of years, we had culinary arts students volunteer their time to prepare a Christmas Dinner meal, with donated ingredients from friends and family, and all of us volunteered to fill disposable thermal boxes with the hot dinners, load them into cars and pick-up trucks, and off we went, to hospitals, traffic intersections, parks — wherever we thought we might find people that, for one reason or another, wouldn’t be privy to a nice Christmas Dinner.

However, this was a huge effort, and very expensive, so we couldn’t cover that much ground. So we thought in terms of something more practical, something that could be cooked and prepared at home. This way, we could make sure many more families could have a Christmas Dinner. That’s when we started the Desayuno de los Pollos.”

How to help:

  1. Buy (or sell) tickets for the fundraising breakfast. Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com, or buy them from anyone selling them around town. Post and Ship in the Golden Zone (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx) will have tickets also.
  2. Make crafts or baked goods to be sold at the bazaar during the breakfast.
  3. Donate (or gather) items for the silent auction (download a gift certificate, artwork, restaurant meals, hotel stays, airfares…)
  4. Help set up, cook, serve or clean up after the breakfast.
  5. Donate money (in person or click on the link), gently used clothing, diapers, lightly worn shoes, linens, blankets coats, new toys, or candy. 100% goes to those in need. Post and Ship will be happy to collect items if you drop them off there (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx).
  6. Help pack the food into packets—the two weeks before Christmas.
  7. Join us to go out with community leaders to deliver tickets for chickens, to ensure all receive their fair share, the weekend before Christmas.
  8. Help us load the trucks and deliver the goodies on December 24th! This is, of course, the most fun and a terrific tradition with friends and family.

When and where is the breakfast?
It’s usually the first Saturday in December, 8:30-10:30 am in the cruise ship dock/API. In 2018 the breakfast will be on Saturday December 8th. Please join us and bring all your friends! Your ticket includes a full homemade breakfast, coffee and juice, a ticket for the door prize, a ticket for the raffle, and access to the Christmas bazaar. This is a very multicultural affair, with announcements in Spanish and English and hundreds of locals and expats attending.

API dock is on Emilio Barragón nearly across from the new OXXO. Below is a map. If you can’t find it, ask any taxi driver or blue shirt/Tourism Volunteer.

API

How can I get to Quince Letras on December 24th?
Come by 6:30 am if you are driving a truck, 7:00 am if you are helping us load and deliver. We usually finish by 11:30 or noon, but some years it’s taken longer (depends how many routes you participate in).

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this “Coca Cola” store on the corner

LOCATION: 15 (QUINCE) LETRAS, corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico, just down the hill from the Church of Cristo Rey (Christ the King—photo below).

  1. From Avenida del Mar turn East at the Fisherman’s Monument.
  2. Go to the first light and turn right.
  3. Proceed one block and turn left (Francisco Villa street, just before the Pemex station).
  4. Go two blocks.
  5. If you are NOT driving a truck or transporting supplies, please park in the next block. This will give us room for loading. Once you’ve parked, walk another block down, past the iron works business called “Quince Letras.” On the corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico you will see a small store with a bright red “Coca Cola” hand painted on the outside, across from a tortillería. A door next to the Cocheras Automaticas business will be open. That’s Yolanda’s mother’s house, and it’s from there that we’ll be loading.
  6. If you are driving a truck or transporting supplies, please drive up to Tampico street (the “Coca Cola” store on your right on the corner), turn right, and park. We will be loading right there.

IMG_0669If you can’t find it, just ask someone for “Quince Letras” or “Desayuno de los Pollos/Medina family.” Everyone in the area will know.

Merry Christmas to all! And see you there!

  1. Download and view or use a PowerPoint presentation with a full explanation of the project: chicken-breakfast-presentation 
  2. Download a gift certificate to fill out, and we’ll advertise your business or service at the breakfast! Just contact us and we’ll pick it up!
  3. Download and print a poster to help advertise.

Have questions? Contact the organizers:

  • Jorge Medina (speaks English well) on his mobile, (669) 110-0744
  • Yolanda Medina (some English) at (669) 431-4529

Permanent link updated annual: https://vidamaz.com/pollos

Chickens for Christmas 2017

DSC_4956I trust you all are enjoying wonderful holidays, and that 2018 will bring you much health and joy.

This year as we handed out chickens and food to over 2500 needy families, the most popular items— other than the food, of course—were the blankets and tools! We had a few drills, some hand tools, and a couple of electric tools, and my oh my did this make the men happy! Fortunately we had 80 blankets, thanks to the generosity of one donor and the intelligence and kindness of an expat couple who traveled to Guadalajara to buy them. If we had had 800, people would have been thrilled. We chose the elderly most in need as recipients of the very soft and warm blankets. Click on any photo to view it larger or watch a slideshow.

 

The spinners and the balls were just some of the many toys that our nieces bought with the proceeds from the sale of their brownies. Lots of local children donated their gently used toys, so this year we were blessed to be able to make over 300 children very happy. Perla and Brisa, the two neighborhood girls who have accompanied us the past five years joined in again; they have gotten really good and bringing Christmas cheer to those in need. Baby things are also very popular: diapers, clothes, blankets.

 

Our group handed out food, clothing, shoes and toys in three places this year: Rincón de Mazatlán (in Colonia Universo/Ébano), El Basurón (the city dump) and Rancho de los Niños. We felt especially blessed that it was just our group this year: our family, our good friends the Hernández, and friends of ours and theirs. It rocked to be together with loved ones on Christmas bringing smiles to the faces of everyone from 90 to 3 months!

We tried a new method of handing things out that worked wonderfully. As you can imagine, people get anxious and over-eager, and that makes for lots of confusion if we don’t manage things well. Well, we lined up our heavily-laden trucks and cars as usual: chickens first, then despensas/food, followed by toys. Once all that was given out, we opened up the clothes, displaying them on the ground on sheets as if in a store, and keeping the line moving steadily.

 

We announced the plan to everyone ahead of time, so that those who wanted clothes would stick around. They were all lined up, the community leaders had made sure of that, and then our volunteers lined up as well, forming a human chain or wall between those in the line and the gifts. At first we felt awkward, but it worked beautifully! No more cutting the line, everyone got something, it felt organized and there was happiness galore. Bless all our volunteers and their smiling faces and love-filled hearts!

We had so many clothes and shoes this time that, despite serving over 350 families, we had extra! I especially loved how everyone tried on shoes to make sure they fit, leaving them for others if they didn’t, and then glowed with happiness when they found the perfect pair of leather flip flops or high heels. We packed up the leftover clothing and shoes and left them with the community leaders to hand out to those in need who couldn’t make our event on Christmas Eve morning.

 

People really love blankets and other bedding, including sheets and pillows. They love pots and pans and kitchen things; most have outdoor kitchens and these items don’t last long. If you have any extra tools you don’t use, or see any at garage sales this summer and you drive down, please bring them! My one great sadness this year was a gentleman who showed up at 11:30 with a ticket for a chicken AND food, but we’d already handed it all out. He didn’t want toys or clothes, and in his disappointment was very upset with us. We had asked them to show up at 8:30, so he was late. But, he really was looking forward to the chicken. I didn’t have any cash on me to give him, and he left in a huff. God bless him; I do hope something else happened to make his Christmas beautiful.

We started loading at Quince Letras about 6am. We are a multinational group of locals and expats, including dozens of young adults, many of whom have been doing this since they were kids and who now bring their friends—the next generation. I love watching them grow in strength of character and love each year. We also have a solid group of children who join in to help. We form bucket brigades or rally lines to load the trucks with food, toys and clothes, then set out on different routes to reach people all the way to Villa Unión. This year we also served the community of desplazados, those displaced by violence in the Sierras; I was thrilled with that! After loading all the trucks and cars, we form a large circle to say a prayer, and then we are off!

 

Our group first went to the Basurón, then Rincón de Mazatlán, and finished up visiting Rancho de los Niños, where we all enjoyed playing with the disabled kids. Hugging and loving on them made for a perfectly wonderful end to our Christmas Eve morning. We saw the new buildings that are being built for Rancho de los Niños by Back to Back Ministries, including a physical therapy pool. The new digs look great and should be ready early in the new year!

 

THANK YOU ALL immensely, for participating in the myriad ways you do! We look forward to seeing you again next year. I have written lots of stories and posted many photos of this event over the past 16 years. Just search for “pollos” or “chicken” in the search box if you’d like to see more. And remember, details can be found at www.VidaMaz.com/Pollos