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Victoria residents greet 2012 with a bang

By ErinPradia
Dec. 31, 2011 at 6:31 a.m.

Rene Rodriguez lights off fireworks with his family to celebrate the New Year on Saturday at Saxet Lakes Park. Rodriguez, his wife, their son and their niece and nephew enjoyed lighting off the fireworks as soon as the sun set before they headed to a party to ring in 2012. Rodriguez and his wife, Monica, said that they were going to try to have a better 2012 and were showing the kids that they could have a fun holiday without drinking.

Three generations of Cuellars and their friends have gathered at Saxet Lakes every year to celebrate the new year with a bang.

Saturday was no exception.

The whole family enjoys fireworks - from 67-year-old Vietnam veteran Greg Cuellar Jr. and his nine grandchildren to the family pet, "Bob Flores," the pug.

The annual tradition starts with a late afternoon barbecue on New Year's Eve, then the children ignite fireworks late into the night.

"It gets more and more expensive every year, it seems like," said Cuellar, 31, of Victoria.

Cuellar said he and the children fired $40 worth of fireworks in about two hours. They paced the fireworks to last through the evening.

"We are waiting to do the big ones later on for the countdown," he said several hours before 2012 arrived.

This year, the burn ban has limited which fireworks are safe to launch.

"Rockets with sticks and missiles with fins are banned," said Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray.

Each year, Commissioner of Precinct 3 Gary Burns opens Saxet Lakes as a safe place to ignite fireworks from about 5:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve to 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Day. Precinct workers open the park and clean up the park the day after, Pray said.

The Victoria County Volunteer Firefighters and their families generally celebrate the New Year's holiday together in the park.

"We are on hand to make sure everything is OK and nothing gets out of hand," Pray said.

Catherine Cuellar, 10, of Victoria, enjoyed startling the adults by sneaking up behind them to explode firecrackers.

Her favorite fireworks are the magical shots because they shoot off different colors.

"My favorite color fireworks are pink," Catherine said. "They look awesome when they shoot up into the air."

The Cuellar family said 2011 was a good year for them.

"We finally got along a lot better as a family this year," Cuellar said.

They are hoping to have a prosperous and healthy year in 2012.

"Especially for my parents," said Cuellar's sister, Sandra Valdez, 41, of Victoria.

The Cuellars intend to start the new year by sleeping late Sunday.

"Tomorrow will be a day of rest and relaxation," Cuellar said. "And football," Valdez added.



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