1997 Sea & Air Festival to be held August 19-24 San Pedro Town Board first sponsor

San Pedro residents, travel agents, visitors and the country of Belize finally will have an answer to their most frequently asked question, "Will there be a Sea & Air Festival this year?" The answer is an emphatic YES.

The 1997 festival chairman is Gach Guerrero. Eiden Salazar Jr. will serve as co-chairman and Yolanda Sabido will be treasurer and financial officer.

The delay in announcing this year's festival was due to a number of factors. Last year's festival, although spectacular, suffered a financial loss. In addition to having no start-up funds, TACA International Airlines, the festival's Grand Sponsor for many years was unable to commit airline seats for performers from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador during the summer months and suggested the festival be held in September or October. After preparing a budget that reflected no financial assistance from major sponsorship, the festival committee met with the San Pedro Town Board to decide how to proceed. It was decided that the festival should be held in late August as a September festival would be in competition with the September Celebrations and the weather and economic conditions in October are too unstable to consider staging the outdoor event. The town board advised the committee that it would assist by providing office space, an employee to run the office and assistance with the labor to build the festival grounds - thus becoming the first sponsor.

This year's festival will again celebrate the cultures of the five Mundo Maya countries - Belize, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala. The second international pageant - La Reina de la Costa Maya will take place and mechanical games have been obtained for the event.

The committee meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Ramon's Village (check with the desk for the location). Volunteers and sponsors are especially welcome and needed. There are only 15 weeks remaining to stage the festival. Call Gach Guerrero 3016 or stop by the festival office downstairs at the rear of the town hall.

Reina de la Costa Maya visits San Pedro

Maria del Socorro Retoloza Ulloa of Mexico visited La Isla Bonita last week. Her stay at Ramon's Village Resort was part of the prize she won when she was crowned Reina de La Costa Maya at the 1996 International Sea & Air Festival. Maria enjoyed her reunion with pageant organizers and her many friends in San Pedro. They danced at Tarzan's and Big Daddy's and Maria revisited Mickey's Place, her favorite island restaurant. She took time to make a day trip to Caye Caulker to visit the community who gave a wonderful welcoming party for the contestants last year.

Ms. Retolaza said her return to Mexico after winning the pageant in San Pedro was spectacular. The Mexican press bombarded her when she deplaned. The Nuestra Belleza Mexico is very proud of her accomplishment and has included La Reina de La Costa Maya on their internet page.

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