McALLEN – Once the ribbon was snipped, children rushed to the top of Lantana Hill at a ribbon cutting for the new fixture at the McAllen Nature Center.

“We are here to celebrate the hard work of our city staff and parks and recreation department,” City Commissioner Tania Ramirez said. “The amazing city pride allowed us to build this amazing hill behind us.”

In 2017, an online competition was held by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the Walt Disney Company and the ABC Television group where the City of McAllen won a $20,000 grant to improve a local park.

The funds were used to develop the 25-foot natural observation deck which gives a glimpse of the McAllen Convention Center Campus. The funds were used to purchase the stone, fencing, landscaping and irrigation supplies.

Former deputy director for the Parks & Recreation Department Bob Canterbury designed the project and it was built by the staff. The decomposed granite trail leads to the summit where there are a few benches. On one side of the hill access is given to the summit by a steep stone walkway that can be used to climb straight up.

The McAllen Nature Center has grown exponentially over the last few years. They started with a full time employee and two part time employees and only being opened eight hours a week.

Today the center is open full time and increased annual visitation from 900 to 20,000 people.

The property is 33 acres and includes a 1.8 mile trail. There are public programs everyday that include yoga, tai chi, meditation, native plant tour and night hikes to name a few. The yoga class alone reaches about 3,000 students a year.

“There is an awesome benefit to be teaching our visitors about health and wellness,” Recreation Supervisor for McAllen Nature Center Tiffany Kersten said. “In addition Lantana Hill adds another feature to our trail system which is to climb 25 feet.”

The McAllen Nature Center has also received a $5,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife to build a pond at the bird feeding station.

The Lantana Hill was completed last year but the official unveiling was postponed due to weather.

Visit the McAllen Nature Center located at 4101 W. Bus. 83. Just west of Ware Road.