by: Krystal Krenek
Doors were set to open at 6 pm on Wednesday, November 16th, for the long-awaited Grand Opening of Bass Pro Shops’ 58th store, located in our very own city of Harlingen. At 6:45 pm, the throng of people that had gathered all around the entrance bottlenecked into a swarm and each waited their turn to cross the threshold into the 144,000 square foot monstrosity of a store. Upwards of 9,500 people walked through the turnstiles that night. Bass Pro Shops was finally open for business.
Eager shoppers and onlookers alike began to gather outside the store mid-afternoon on the big day. Amazingly, the entire expansive parking lot was full before 6:00 pm, and the crowd continued to pour into the Bass Pro streets and parked on the dirt that extended all the way to the Expressway. A huge hot air balloon intermittently lit the evening sky, lighting the way to the opening event entitled “Evening of Conservation.” Bass Pro announced that it would donate 50 cents for every dollar spent that first shopping night to the “More Fish” Campaign of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which works to save fish and their habitats for the generations to come.
As the crowd built outside the store, a grand opening ceremony took place complete with MC, and an opening prayer was offered. Cheerleaders and mascots from Harlingen High School and Harlingen South were present, and t-shirts and treats were tossed into the crowd. Free giveaways were available for the first 200 customers to check out that night. A Bass Pro NASCAR race car and truck series vehicle rumbled through the crowd toward the stage set at the entrance. Beyond waiting to see the decked-out new facility and shop for wares in the fishing, hunting, boating, camping, and marine categories, people were lined up to see and get autographs from the special guests on hand for the Grand Opening. Those scheduled to appear included:
Jamie McMurray, Bass Pro Shops #1 Sprint Cup Series Driver
Austin Dillion, Bass Pro Shops RCR #3 Truck Series Driver
Jay Novaceck, Dallas Cowboys 5-Time Pro Bowler from 1990 to 1996
Jeanette Lee, “The Black Widow,” America’s Billiard Star
Jerry Martin, John Paul Morris, and Jim & Angie Ryan, all RedHead Pro Hunting Team Members
Edwin Evers, 11-Time Bassmaster Classic Qualifier
Jimmy Houston, the host of the “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” TV Show
Ott DeFoe, Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year for 2011
Chris Reed, The History Channel’s Top Shot Champion for 2011
Brittany Booker, Miss Texas USA 2012
Bass Pro Shops is home to a 24,000 gallon aquarium, which is houses native trophy fish. Beyond the shopping experience, Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill offers a bowling alley and restaurant venue on site. Bass Pro Shops truly is “The Great American Outdoor Store,” and now a place of its magnitude is calling Harlingen home.
Bass Pro Shops is located at 101 Bass Pro Drive. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 10 pm and on Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm. Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm and Friday and Saturday from 11 am to midnight. Stop by for your own Bass Pro experience if you haven’t already, or give them a call at 956.291.5200 with any questions. Visit the website at www.BassPro.com.