Non-profit organization brings unique Christmas spirit to the RGV

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Big Red’s Ranch in San Benito is striving to bring families in the Rio Grande Valley to have an unforgettable Christmas experience through their Christmas at the Ranch and Lights of Hope events.

The non-profit organization’s mission is to strengthen families and fight for the fatherless, according to the executive director, Jonathan Barnard.

“We want families to come out and enjoy and make memories and have a great time as a family together and we see that as an opportunity to see them strengthen as a family,” said Barnard.

He said donors, sponsors, and support from the community allows them to give back to the community.

“One of those things we do is we provide free tickets to single parents,” he said.

Barnard explained that the organization operates year-round, providing different events, activities, and summer camps.

Celeste Barnard said that the Christmas events at the ranch are for the entire family to enjoy.

“Christmas at the Ranch is like the most magical experience,” she said.

Barnard explained the event includes lighted canoe rides, hayrides throughout the ranch, farm animals, food trucks, and even snow.

She said for those who prefer to stay off their feet, there is an option for them to drive through their Lights of Hope experience.

“They can drive up, they get to watch a show, we have kettle corn, we have hot cocoa, and then once the show is done, they get to drive around a 60-acre ranch and see everything is lit up, it’s beautiful, it’s a really fun experience,” she said.

The 60-acre ranch is full of light structures, activities, and rides, which all take a lot of work, according to chief operations officer, Faith Barnard.

“Every night of these events it requires about a hundred volunteers to come together,” she said.

She explained preparations start as early as August and the events attract up to 1,300 people each night.

“Not only does it take a hundred volunteers a night, but we also have monthly donors that are supporting us not only financially, but also just in prayer and emotionally and spiritually supporting us,” she said.

Big Red’s Ranch started as a dream for a board member, Jimmy Barnard, forty years ago after he realized not everyone was fortunate to attend camps.

“I’ve always said, if we didn’t share it, we wouldn’t have it so that’s the purpose of this ranch, is to share it,” said Jimmy Barnard.

He said it is a blessing to see families having fun and plans to keep improving.

“We strive each year to do better and better, more lights, more activities, more time out here, so they can just enjoy it.” 

For more information on Big Red’s Ranch and their holiday events, you can visit their website.

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