Most Winter Texans have returned to their respective home states, but every year, a few of the estimated 100,000 annual seasonal visitors decide to make the Rio Grande Valley their permanent home.

They’ve come to be known as “Converted Texans,” a phrase coined by Kristi Collier when she organized the 1st Converted Texan Corral in 2010. The event, which has been held almost every year since, pays tribute to these new permanent neighbors, according to The Brownsville Herald.

“We have over 300 RV parks in the Valley,” Collier said. “There may not be many converted Texans in one particular park, but when you add all the parks together then all of a sudden you have a really nice segment of the market. They shop here year-round; they buy gas; they buy clothes; they buy furniture; and they go to the doctor. So they’re a very important segment of the market.”

While the economic impact of converted Texans has not been studied, the wider winter Texan population pumps about $700 million into the local economy annually, according to the latest survey by the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

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