The West Texas-born holiday icon is celebrating its 50th year.
An exhibit on the history and cultural legacy of Pancho Clos, the much-loved, West Texas-born holiday icon of Chicano and Latino children, will be on display through March 19, 2022, in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library (SWC/SCL) at Texas Tech University.
The exhibit features Pancho's sombrero and serape, along with historic photographs from the early years, publications and newspapers.
“Pancho Clos, an endearing West Texas twist on Santa Claus, is celebrating its 50th year,” said Daniel Urbina Sanchez, archival associate at the SWC/SCL and one of the exhibit's organizers. “According to SWC oral histories and local media articles, the tradition began in 1971 after Agustín T. Medina Sr., Jesse Reyes and Bidal Aguero presented the idea to the Lubbock American GI Forum, and the membership loved it.”
After a flurry of ideas and suggestions, the beloved character was born and given a full black beard, serape and sombrero, Sanchez said. As local churches began clamoring for Pancho Clos, his joyful spirit spread across the region and soon appeared in San Antonio. Since then, cities throughout Texas have adopted their own iterations of Pancho Clos.
Stories about Pancho Clos can be found in the SWC/SCL's Oral History Collection.
The exhibit will be on display in the SWC/SCL's Rotunda, with a second installment planned in late 2022.
The SWC/SCL is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through Dec. 23. It will be closed for the winter break Dec. 24 through Jan. 2 and will reopen on Jan. 3. Hours of operation and more information are available at the SWC/SCL website.