WBCA Abrazo Children Selected for 126th Celebration


The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) along with the International Good Neighbor Council (IGNC) have announced their selection of the four bright young Abrazo Children who will represent the United States and Mexico during the 126th Celebration.

“At the International Bridge Ceremony, sponsored by La Posada Hotel, we witness the beautiful merging of two nations. Through the Abrazo Children’s embrace and the exchange of flags, unity takes center stage. This event is a powerful reminder that friendship knows no borders,” said WBCA President Rochelle Gonzalez.

The 2023 – 2024 Abrazo Children, representing the United States, are Scarlett Emma Gonzalez and Jackson A. Peregoy. The children representing Mexico are Estefania Ramirez Richer and Jorge Eduardo Gutierrez Gonzalez. The official announcement of the selection was made during a special ceremony on Friday, August 10, 2023, at the San Agustin Ballroom at La Posada Hotel located at 1000 Zaragoza Street, the proud sponsor of the International Bridge Ceremony and the Official Hotel of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration.

Scarlett Emma Gonzalez, age 11, is the daughter of Mr. Rodolfo Gonzalez III and Mrs. Erica Luna. Scarlett is a sixth grader at St. Augustine Middle School. She is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, Laredo Junior Golf Association, the Courtesy Club and the Rosary Club. Her hobbies include golf, gymnastics, track, tennis, ice skating, volleyball and going to the beach. She especially loves spending time with her family and friends and hunting at the family ranch.

Scarlett’s mother has volunteered, and continues to volunteer, in multiple capacities with the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association and its affiliate organization, the International Good Neighbor Council in Laredo, and has also served in multiple capacities on both boards. Scarlett is honored to follow in her family’s footsteps and continue this legacy as the 2023-2024 Abrazo Child representing the United States.
Jackson Alexander Peregoy is 9-years-old and the son of Mr. Bobby Peregoy and Mrs. Margaret Peregoy. He is a fourth-grade student at Colonel Santos Benavides Elementary School. In his free time, Jack enjoys the challenges of raising livestock through his work with the Wrangler 4H Club and is excited about starting his next project in a few months. Jack also loves playing basketball and spends time polishing his skills at the KJ Athletics Basketball Club. As an avid outdoorsman, Jack spends as much time as he can hunting the South Texas brush country and has proven to be quite the marksman behind his rifle. His love for the outdoors doesn’t end with hunting, as he proudly completed his first Spartan Kids race in 2022 and is looking forward to running many more.

Jack continues a long family legacy of community involvement. His father, Bobby, served on the WBCA Board of Directors and on the WBCA Executive Committee. He was elected WBCA President in 2020 and currently serves as a WBCA Lifetime Director and as a Member and Officer of WBCA’s Affiliate Organization, Los Caballeros de la Republica del Rio Grande. Jack also follows in the footsteps of his sister, Riley Olivia Peregoy, who was presented as an Abrazo Child in 2019.
Jack is honored and excited to represent the City of Laredo and the United States as the 2023-2024 Abrazo Child as part of the 126th Washington’s Birthday Celebration.

Estefania Ramirez Richer is 8-years-old and the daughter of Mr. Emmanuel Ramirez and Mrs. Stephanie Richer de Ramirez. Next week, she will be starting 3rd Grade at Mary Help of Christians School. She is a proud member of Grupo NET. An avid gymnast at heart, Estefania also loves participating in sports such as volleyball, basketball, track and tennis. Among other hobbies she enjoys are Ballet and Jazz. Estefania follows a family legacy of community involvement that began with her grandmother, Adriana Mounetou de Richer, who represented Mexico as an Abrazo Child back in 1969. Estefania is honored to represent Mexico, as the 2023-2024 Abrazo Child, during the 126th Washington’s Birthday Celebration festivities.

Jorge Eduardo Gutierrez Gonzalez, is 9-years-old and the son of Mr. Jorge Gutierrez Alexander and Mrs. Andrea Gonzalez de Gutierrez. He’s in 4th grade at United Day School and is a proud member of the UDS basketball team. His favorite NBA team is the Golden State Warriors and he admires Stephen Curry. When he grows up, he would like to be an NBA Player. Moreover, he enjoys learning math, playing tennis, traveling abroad, and eating tacos.

As the 2023-2024 Abrazo Child representing Mexico, Jorge is proud of his culture, because ….. “México es alegría, pasión, México es vida y colores, México es su gente y el orgullo que demostramos por nuestras raíces. México es grande por el pueblo que lo habita, por las historias de su gente y por lo vivaz de su naturaleza.”

The symbolic meeting of the two countries that form part of this Laredo Celebration was first established in 1898. It quickly evolved to include a ceremony where U.S. and Mexican local and military officials gathered to walk arm in arm into downtown Laredo, making it one of the longest-standing traditions of the Celebration still honored to date. In 1969, the WBCA and IGNC introduced the Abrazo Children to this symbolic event to further promote greater awareness and understanding between the people of the Americas. The act of the four children meeting in the middle of the bridge and exchanging a heartfelt “abrazo” symbolizes friendship, goodwill, kindness and a mutual appreciation between the United States and Mexico.

After the children exchange these symbolic hugs or “abrazos,” the U.S. and Mexican dignitaries also meet their counterparts in the middle of the bridge and share the same “abrazo” gesture. This is the only time each year that an international bridge linking the two countries is formally closed to the public.

As official Ambassadors of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration, this year’s Abrazo Children will attend a number of WBCA events including the historic International Bridge Ceremony Sponsored by La Posada Hotel. The event will take place on Saturday, February 17, 2024 at 7:30 a.m. on the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge.

Throughout the years, the Celebration has grown to be over a month long and consists of parades, dazzling pageants, fireworks, a carnival, an air show, a sizzling jalapeño festival and much more. Combined, WBCA events attract nearly 500,000 residents and visitors, and contributes an estimated $14 million every year to the local economy.