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MERCEDES, RGV – At this time of the year, Rio Grande Valley legislators call Ron Whitlock the region’s “Ambassador to Austin.” Why? Because he makes his annual “fruit run” to the state Capitol.

The veteran broadcaster has been taking grapefruit to statewide elected officials, state legislators and their staff every Christmas for more than ten years. He loads up his truck and takes dozens of boxes of Rio Star grapefruit to dozens and dozens of Capitol offices.

“I started doing this back when Bill Summers was president of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. We thought it was a good idea to make sure legislators from other parts of Texas got a real taste of the greatness of the Rio Grande Valley. After all, the Grapefruit is the official State Fruit of Texas and these are the sweetest grapefruit you can get,” Whitlock said.

Some years the Partnership sponsors the trip, some years Whitlock finances it himself. Either way, Whitlock says, the “Capitol fruit run” helps fly the flag for the Rio Grande Valley. “This region was founded on agriculture and it is still an important component. I think it is a great Christmas present for the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker and the state legislators to have a box of fresh, sweet grapefruit from the Valley. I know our colleagues from around the state appreciate it.”

Whitlock said he will be busy for the rest of this week and all of next week delivering boxes of grapefruit and “a positive message from the Valley” to numerous offices around the state Capitol. For those interested in receiving a box of grapefruit, call 956-778-7903.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows U.S. Representative-elect Vicente Gonzalez and Ron Whitlock with a box of Rio Star grapefruit.