Snowbirds Arrive Boosting The County’s Economy

(Top L-R) Jean Alkins, Barbara Bowen, Les Alkins, Clayton Bowen (Bottom L-R) Yvonne Mather, Frank Mathyssen, Gerry Gray and Shirley Gray travel yearly as a group to Imperial County to enjoy the warm weather during the winter months.

EL CENTRO – Excited to be back and with perfect weather, over 600 visitors were treated to a “Welcome Back Snowbirds” breakfast Saturday morning at the Desert Trails RV Park & Golf Course hosted by the El Centro Chamber of Commerce, Imperial County Board of Supervisors, and the Desert Trails RV Park.

“This is our way of welcoming, saying thank you and showing our appreciation to all of the Snowbirds that choose to spend the winter season in Imperial County,” said Les Smith, General Manager, Desert Trails RV Park. “They spend a big part of their lives here and have a tremendously positive economic impact not only to the City of El Centro, but to the entire Valley.”

Snowbirds enjoyed a warm meal consisting of grilled ham, biscuits and gravy, and a choice of drink in a picnic-setting ambiance, while listening to music and a performance by the El Centro Union High School Savapa Dancers.

“Traditionally grilled ham and pancakes were served however, this year we changed it up a bit and it seems to be going well,” said Smith.

Booths from local businesses, hospitals and vendors were set up on the sidelines distributing information from all who attended: the City of El Centro, El Centro Regional Medical Center, Farm Smart Program, Carrows Restaurant, Mexicali Health Care AC, Styles & Smiles Beauty Salon, Gustavo de la Mora Behar, M.D., Imperial Palms Resort at Barbara Worth, Imperial Valley Press, Yuma Visitors Bureau, Imperial Valley Family Care Medical Group, APC, Saint Peter & Paul Episcopal Church and Imperial Valley Expo.

“The medical cluster from Mexicali has become very important to our community and they are here sharing information. Many of the Canadians are utilizing the medical tourism that’s available in Mexicali. Purchasing insurance is the Canadian’s biggest expense and that is why recently they have chosen to purchase insurance in Mexicali,” explained Smith.

According to Smith, when Canadians leave the country they are required to purchase healthcare insurance from the country they are visiting, because the Canadian insurance only provides coverage in Canada.

“Medical services in Canada are very costly, so when I travel to Imperial County, I normally have all my medical exams here at a lower cost,” said Jannie Tremblay.

The event opened with the Canadian National Anthem followed by the American National Anthem and an invocation by Father Mark/Reverend Ron Griffin.

“My partner (Ole Petersen) and I came two years ago to visit my friends and we loved it,” said Susan Englund, Vancouver Island, British Columbia resident. This is our second year back. We enjoy staying at El Centro Desert Trails because it’s so central. We can walk to many restaurants and the grocery store is just next door. People here are so friendly, we absolutely love it.”

Out-of-town residents who travel from colder, northern areas and visit the Imperial Valley during the winter months identify themselves as snowbirds.

Friends Clayton Bowen, Les Alkins, Barbara Boman, Jean Atkins, Yvonne Mather, Frank Mathyssen, Gerry Gray and Shirley Gray travel yearly as a group to the Valley from Vancouver Island.

“I enjoy coming to the Valley because there is no snow,” said Shirley Gray. “We love the warm weather here and will be enjoying it for the next five months.”

“I love the hospitality of the people and that’s what makes me come back year after year,” said Barbara Boman, Vancouver Island resident.

On average, and according to several visitors, the cost of living during the five months the snowbirds spend in the Valley vary between $6,000 to $10,000.

“We are very grateful that the Board of Supervisors helped out tremendously this year,” said Smith.

District 2 Supervisor Jesus “Jack” Terrazas and El Centro City Mayor Jason Jackson were among those who assisted with serving breakfast.

Additionally, raffles took place throughout the day giving away donated items like pies, wine bottles and gift certificates from local businesses and organizations.

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