This article was contributed by Cristela Beltran Sifuentez. She is a history tour guide at Quinta Mazatlan. Your invitation for fun, fun, fun . . .

¿Vida Que? Vida Verde! Being the new kid on the block, that was my question and corresponding response when inquiring about Vida Verde. It is my pleasure and great privilege to invite you to join the City of McAllen's Celebration of Earth Day, Vida Verde Festival on Saturday, April 18th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Quinta Mazatlán. Free admission! And, yes, that includes kids from 0 to 99+! We'll have free activities for everyone!

Just read of all the fun activities. First, there's the exciting Wild Birds of Prey show featured at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Experience a close encounter of the wild kind with more than 20 hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons! The birds range in size from small owls weighing only three ounces to majestic eagles with eight foot wingspans.

The Raptor Project and its birds of prey are ambassadors to millions of us across the nation and have been featured on national television including: Animal Planet, National Geographic, Good Morning America, and CNN. Come join us in welcoming federally licensed Master Falconer and Rehabilitator, Jonathan Woods, who's trained and handled raptors for almost four decades!

For reptile lovers, join Danny Conner at his Reptile Adventure show which will be featured at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. He educates, entertains, and fascinates crowds of all ages by sharing his knowledge, and respect for these amazing and intriguing animals. He features more than 75 different species including: crocodiles, alligators, turtles, tortoises, lizards, spiders, scorpions, and snakes such as huge pythons and anacondas, and cobras (all at a safe distance, of course).

Music, music, and more music! Our concerts in the park will be presented at 9, 10:30, and 11:30 in the morning and 12:30, 2 and 3 in the afternoon. What can be better than relaxing under the our shade trees and enjoying the talents of the Valley Youth Cello Orchestra, Camarata Cellista and Peruvian family musicians, and the Ensemble La MisiÓn,

Active healthy lifestyle anyone? Explore our belly dancing classes at 2 p.m. from Salsa McAllen, yoga at 1pm and Tai Chi at 9:30 a.m. There will a sampling of delicious healthy treats provided by Lifescapes Whole Health Center! Did I mention the Tibetan Singing Bowls at 3:30 p.m?

For those interested in "Green" living, there will be activities and information about recycling, conservation, nature, and alternative energy! Discover ways to make the earth a better place by learning how to reduce your utility bills, water consumption, recycling tips and other ideas from Edinburg Scenic Wetlands WBC, International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS), NABA Butterfly Park, Valley Nature Center, Cool Cities Edinburg, Valley Proud Environmental Council, and others.

For art lovers, you'll enjoy the art exhibits in the Historical Mansion as well as the newest exhibit exploring the birds of south Texas through the eyes of San Francisco artist, David Tomb. Others artists featured are Reynaldo Santiago, Issac Santiago, Amaryllis Rodr-guez, Benjamin Varela, Benjamin Mart-nez, Ramiro Paz, Elly Silva, Irma Ram-rez, Ariel King, David Keys, Molted Gecko, Simon Arriaga, Raquel Hinojosa & more!

Kids will enjoy the eco-art exhibit and create cool artwork made of recycled plastics. Or how about driving or riding an electric vehicle? Adults can create their own artwork on recycled paper to take home with guidance from artist David Tomb.

And come hungry! Fifteen food booths are participating with fabulous festival favorites such as turkey legs, fajitas, sausage-on-a-stick, funnel cakes, fruit cups.

Vida Verde is made possible by the generous sponsorships of Freels Orthodontics, Chick-Fil-A, City of McAllen Parks and Recreation Department, McAllen Public Utilities, McAllen Recycling Center, Keep McAllen Beautiful, Art House and many others. Vida Verde Festival provides families with good "Green" fun, so come join us!

For a more detailed schedule of events visit under "EVENTS" or call (956)681-3370 for more information. Quinta Mazatlán, the McAllen Wing of the World Birding Center is located at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen, one block south of La Plaza Mall off South 10th Street, east of the Grand Plaza Hotel.

Mary Garza Cummings is a freelance writer. The Town Crier does not warrant the information as valid. It is the responsibility of the reader to ensure validity of the information. If you have questions or comments, email