HARLINGEN — When Rey Calara walked into the Harlingen Convention Center, he added it to his list of potential conference venues.

Calara, a consultant with Ambit Energy, said he works with energy companies often planning conventions.

“That’s why I’m here — to get to know the facility,” Calara, who lives in Harlingen, said as he sat in the building’s grand ballroom awaiting Mayor Chris Boswell’s annual State of the City Address.

On Friday, the convention center’s opening carried the air of a social event.

“It’s phenomenal,” Marilyn White, co-founder of the Harlingen Humane Society, said after traveling from her Florida home. “I’m absolutely delighted. I think Harlingen needed this for a long time.”

At 701 Harlingen Heights Drive, the 44,000-square-foot building, with its cream-brick façade and tall arched windows, sports a South Texas flair.

For decades, businessman Frank Boggus has heard city leaders talking about –> See More

Harlingen Convention Center dazzles its first guests