Saturday, October 27, 2012

The down-low on moustaches

NOTE: For a roundup on moustache fun for everyone, check on the Sunday Nov. 4 Las Cruces Sun-News SunLife cover By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — What do mustaches mean to you? While putting together today’s feature, I was reflecting on my own experience with the mustachioed. I remember that my mom thought Errol Flynn’s pencil-thin mustache was dashing and my sister had a crush on Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, but other than before-my-time movie idols, I don’t recall anybody in my real life having any sort of hirsute upper lips when I was growing up. That all changed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when everybody seemed to have hair: long, beautiful hair, any place they could grow it. It was a fashion statement. A protest against the clean-shaven status quo. A lifestyle choice. Even a hit musical. Suddenly, all our boyfriends, and later our hubbies, had moustaches, along with beards, and what I remember most about that era is whiskerburn ... lots of it, in the best of times. And in the worst of times ... well, as noted, hair was a symbol of so much for the flower power, Baby Boomer, protest generation. My long-time lawfully-wedded roommate would stop trimming and start growing hair when he felt rebellious, domesticated, or otherwise in need of change and adventure. When yearnings for a new job or a promotion or generally upwardly mobile life change came up, out would come the razor. As a psych minor and journalist, naturally I was interested in what it all meant, and that was far from clear. Some feel mustachioed men are more manly and assertive, so confident that they don’t mind —and may even want — the extra attention that comes from a large, elaborately groomed display of facial hair. Others feel a man with a moustache has something to hide, or wants to hide, himself. Maybe Sigmund Freud would have said that sometimes, a moustache is just a moustache. But then, Sigmund had a very ample face full of hair himself, so I’m not sure we could count on him to be objective. After pondering a lot of guys and their moustaches (along with the occasional rebel and anomaly like Frida Kahlo, a woman who seemed downright proud of her ‘stache), I’m inclined to think it just depends. Moustaches mean different things to different people at different times in their lives. It seems like there was a long dearth of moustaches there for a while. That was just one reason that our former city editor Charles Brunt was memorable, but his impressive waxed ‘stache and his VILLAIN personalized license plate certainly made their mark. So much so, that we all decided to don fake handlebar moustaches for his farewell party, and somewhere, we have the multi-mustachioed pictures to prove it. Not long ago, I was surprised when my soulmate met me at the airport sporting an impressive ‘stache. It was his first in nearly three decades, since his intern days, before we met. He’d spent some time at sea on a research ship and it seemed like something to do, he said. “And besides, I wanted to see if I could still grow some hair somewhere on my head,” he quipped. He could, and so can a lot of his contemporaries, many of them former flower children who are retired now. They don’t have to shave to fit any corporate standards, so why should they? And if they can recapture a bit of their youthful spirit of adventure with a soupçon of macho flair and derring-do in the process, why not? Is it a fair trade, maybe even a no-brainer? Razor burn, propriety and conformity for freedom, a new look and a new outlook on life. I watched the new holiday perfume ads featuring Brad Pitt, now sporting a beard and moustache, and thought about Errol and Clark, dashing and swashbuckling through their very long primetimes. It all comes down to the guy behind the ‘stache, of course. But all in all, whisker burn is a small price to pay; it’s worth it to have the right mustachioed man in your life. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Day of the Dead 101

By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — Día de los Muertos has been called “a day when heaven and earth meet” and “a celebration of lives well-lived.” In Las Cruces, it has become a beloved tradition, a time when Borderland cultures blend, showcasing and sometimes creatively combining Spanish, Mexican, American Indian and Anglo customs and beliefs. Día De Los Muertos “is not a morbid holiday but a festive remembrance of Los Angelitos (children) and all souls (Los Difuntos),” according to a statement from the Calavera Coalition of Mesilla. “This celebration originated with the indigenous people of the American continent, the Aztec, Mayan, Toltec and the Inca. Now, many of the festivities have been transformed from their original pre-Hispanic origins. It is still celebrated throughout North America among Native American tribes. The Spanish arrived and they altered the celebration to coincide with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2).” Continuing an annual Las Cruces Style tradition, here is a guide to some important terms and concepts relating to Day of the Dead celebrations, collected during 19 years of commemorations here. • alfeñique: Molded sugar figures used in altars for the dead. • ancianos: Grandparents or elderly friends or relatives who have died; ancestors honored during the first (north) part of processions for Day of the Dead. • angelitos: Literally “little angels,” refers to departed children and babies, traditionally honored during the first day of celebrations, Nov. 1, and the third (south) part of processions honoring the dead. • anima sola: A lonely soul or spirit who died far from home or who is without amigos or relatives to take responsibility for its care. • calascas: Handmade skeleton figurines which display an active and joyful afterlife, such as musicians or skeleton brides and grooms in wedding finery. • calaveras: Skeletons, used in many ways for celebrations: bread and candies in the shape of skeletons are traditional, along with everything from small and large figures and decorations, skeleton head rattles, candles, masks, jewelry and T-shirts. It’s also the term for skull masks, often painted with bright colors and flowers and used in displays and worn in Day of the Dead processions. • literary calaveras: Poetic tributes written for departed loved ones or things mourned and/or as mock epitaphs. • Catrin and Catrina: Formally dressed couple, or bride and groom skeletons, popularized by renowned Mexican graphic artist and political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada (1851-1913). In modern celebrations, Catrina is particularly popular and appears in many stylish outfits. • copal: A fragrant resin from a Mexican tree used as incense, burned alone or mixed with sage in processions in honor of the dead. • Días de los Muertos: Days of the Dead, usually celebrated on Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 (the official date for Day of the Dead) in conjunction with All Souls Days or Todos Santos, the Catholic Feast of All Saints. Various Borderland communities, including Las Cruces, have their own celebration schedules in October and November. Look for altars and art exhibits around the Mesilla Valley, and our largest area celebration Oct. 29 and 30 on the Mesilla Plaza, also the site of a procession beginning at dusk Nov. 2. • Difunto: Deceased soul, corpse, cadaver. • La Flaca: Nickname for the female death figure, also known as La Muerte. • Frida Kahlo: Mexican artist who collected objects related to the Day of the Dead. Her photo often appears in Día de los Muertos shrines or retablos. • Los Guerreros: Literally, “the warriors,” are dead fathers, husbands, brothers and sons honored in the final (east) stop in Dia De Los Muertos processions. • marigolds: In Mexico, marigolds or “cempasuchil” are officially known as the “flower of the dead.” The flowers are added to processional wreaths at each stop, with one blossom representing each departed soul being honored. Sometimes marigold pedals are strewn from the cemetery to a house. Their pungent fragrance is said to help the spirits find their way back home. Sometimes mums and paper flowers are also used. • mariposas: Butterflies, and sometimes hummingbirds, appear with skeletons to symbolize the flight of the soul from the body to heaven. • masks: Carried or worn during processions and other activities, masks can range from white face paint to simple molded plaster or papier-maché creations or elaborate painted or carved versions that become family heirlooms. • Las Mujeres: The women who have died are honored during the second (west) stop of Day of the Dead processions. After names of dead mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are called and honored, it is traditional for the crowd to sing a song for the Virgin of Guadalupe. • Náhuatl poetry: Traditional odes dedicated to the subject of death, dating back to the pre-Columbian era. • ofrenda: Traditional altar where offerings such as flowers, clothing, food, photographs and objects loved by the departed are placed. The ofrenda may be constructed in the home — usually in the dining room — at a cemetery, or may be carried in a procession. The ofrenda base is often an arch made of bent reeds. It is ornamented with special decorations, sometimes with heirlooms collected by families, much like Christmas ornaments. Decorations may include skeleton figures, toys and musical instruments in addition to offerings for a specific loved one. • pan de muertos: Literally, “bread of the dead.” It is traditionally baked in the shape of a skull — or calavera — and dusted with pink sugar. Here, local bakeries sometimes include red and green chile decorations. • papel picado: Decorations made of colored paper cut in intricate patterns. • Posada: José Guadalupe Posada, (1852-1913), the self-taught “printmaker to the people” and caricaturist was known for his whimsical calaveras, or skeletons, depicted wearing dapper clothes, playing instruments and otherwise nonchalantly conducting their everyday activities, sometimes riding on horse skeletons. • veladores: Professional mourners who help in the grief process in several ways, including candlelight vigils, prayers and with dramatic weeping and wailing. • Xolotlitzcuintle: Monster dog, sometimes depicted as a canine skeleton, sometimes as a Mexican hairless breed. Since pre-Columbian times, this Día de los Muertos doggy has, according to legend, been the departed’s friend, helping with the tests of the perilous crossing of the River Chiconauapan to Mictlan, the land of the dead. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Help save our crumbling fiesta infrastructure

By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — Only time will tell what will happen when the calendar hits Dec. 21 this year. Prognosticators’ opinions are sharply divided about what the most frequently cited sources (Hopi and Mayan prophets and their descendants) really have to say about the much-discussed date. Most authoritative sources I’ve encountered seem to agree that it will be more of transformation, an ending of an era, rather than the end of the world. But in the meantime, here at home on the range, in our own timeframe, we have some crises to confront. Whatever happens in December, we already know that 2012 has seen some crucial crumbling in the Las Cruces fiesta infrastructure. It started when Roberto Estrada announced that his equipment was no longer up to the task of creating the world’s largest enchilada. For the first time in its history, the Whole Enchilada Fiesta came and went without production of its behemoth namesake dish. And now comes the news that Magellan, the Doña Ana Arts Council’s official Renaissance ArtsFaire lake dragon, will not be floating in its customary Young Park pond position this year. Bob Diven’s locally legendary creation has suffered a broken neck, which has left him in danger of becoming “nearly headless,” I learned during this month’s Ramble. I had a deja vu moment when I heard the news. I remembered when my comadre (grandson Alex the Great’s other grandmother) moved to Las Cruces and contemplated our territory through a feng shui master’s eyes. She informed me that our town was very nicely situated with hills and mountains in all the right places. Crouching tigers and bountiful bears may have been involved, if I remember right. And I’ll never forget her pronouncement that the Organ Mountains represented the most impressive example of a dragon she’s ever seen: a sleeping dragon, about to wake up. Ah, the symbolism. My first thought is that if we should let sleeping dogs lie, wouldn’t it be even more prudent to leave sleeping dragons to rest in peace? What if Diven’s dragon symbolizes a behemoth that rose, was injured and now may be very cranky and loaded for bear, to mix my animal metaphors. But we Las Crucens are a brave, resourceful and caring lot, and many are working to restore our cherished fiesta traditions. And in the meantime, the show must go on. Roberto made lots of spicy small dishes for enchilada eating contests instead of the big one this year, and efforts are under way to raise $40,000 for new equipment in time for next year’s Whole Enchilada Fiesta. And I hear that Magellan will make an appearance at DAAC’s RenFaire Saturday and Sunday. But the wounded dragon will be “in the dragon hospital, waiting to be restored to his fiery former glory,” DAAC’s Summer Irvin revealed. He’ll be soliciting comfort kisses for $5, and looking adorably pathetic enough to help generate donations to fix him up and get him back in the pond in 2013. By this time next year, we may have pulled together and be back in the giant enchilada biz and ready to launch a frisky, new — or artfully mended — lake dragon. Or maybe the form of this world will have passed away and it won’t matter. Time will tell. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty — and the key to maintenance of fiesta infrastructure. And our planet. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NM arts groups celebrate 50 years By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — There are some noteworthy golden anniversaries to celebrate this year, along with our state’s 100th birthday. Right here at home, the Las Cruces Art Association, one of the oldest ongoing cultural groups in the Borderlands, is marking its 50th year. So is the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. Its best-known attractions (the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, New Mexico Museum of Art and the New Mexico History Museum) are in Santa Fe, along with the Office of State Archaeological Studies. But the foundation also is responsible for state monuments across New Mexico, including nearby Fort Selden, and two Southern New Mexico families have bequeathed some remarkable gifts that will add immeasurable to the cultural resources and attractions here in the Mesilla Valley. Dr. Kent Jacobs, a past MNMF board president and current foundation trustee and regent, and his wife, artist Sallie Ritter Jacobs, have bequeathed their Las Cruces home, which will become an art museum. And J. Paul Taylor, an MNMF honorary trustee and regent, has also made arrangements to leave to the public the historic Mesilla Plaza adobe home he shared with his late wife Mary and their family. The Jacobs and Taylor families are also bequeathing some impressive art and artifact collections. “Since its establishment in 1962 by Santa Fe attorney Thomas Catron III, the foundation has generated more than $84 million in contributions to support exhibits, collections and educational programs across the museum system — not just in Santa Fe,” according to a recent editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican. You can learn more about the MNMF and its activities at The Las Cruces Arts Association will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a banquet at 1 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Encanto Heritage Hotel and at a November exhibit at Branigan Cultural Center. I was asked to be the keynote speaker for their October gathering and have had fun perusing some newspaper clippings and histories. Founded in 1962 by artists living in Dona Ana County, the group was then known as the Las Cruces Arts and Crafts Association. It was great to see photos of the group’s second director, the late, great artist Patsy Tombaugh (Pluto discoverer Clyde’s wife) and other well-known artists I’ve gotten to know in my almost two decades here. The group quickly established a tradition of service and education, finding venues and organizing exhibitions for artists of all ages and skill levels. “From the beginning, members sought a way to communicate with other artists and be of service in the arts,” said long-time member and three-time LCAA director Rayma Claessen, who traces the group from its first home at Barker Street and Avenida de Mesilla to its newly opened headquarters at Mountain Gallery & Studios, 138 W. Mountain Ave. Learn more about the group (which welcomes new members) and its activities at Happy 50th to everyone affiliated with some great organizations. You’ve enriched our daily lives in the Land of Enchantment. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

DIY Costume ideas

DIY for the most unique costume By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — Got costumes? You’re gonna need them. We are now entering the dress-up portion of Full-Tilt Fiesta Season, so be ready for at least a month of occasions for costumes, including the third-annual Zombie Walk, Oct. 27 on Main Street downtown, Halloween, Día de los Muertos events Nov. 2 through 4 on the Mesilla Plaza, the Doña Ana Arts Council’s Renaissance ArtsFaire Nov. 3 and 4, and assorted fiestas, balls, haunted houses and other events around the territory. And don’t forget private parties, trick-or-treating and assorted last-minute gatherings that will call for some kind of effort. If you’re stymied, don’t despair. I’ve been through at least three generations of childhood costume needs (mine, my son’s and my grandson’s) and two decades of enthusiastic adult costume occasions here in southern New Mexico. You can produce some memorable get-ups with a limited budget and a recycling philosophy. Here are some basic guidelines to help you create your own one-of-a-kind costume. • Play dead. Living dead, that is, and help the planet live at the same time by recycling. It’s easy to zombify any old costume, or personal or thrift shop cast-offs. Just tear, rip and add a little gauze and zombie blood (available commercially, or make your own with a mixture of gray and red makeup or acrylic paint for your clothes). • Go vintage: The 20th century produced some of the new millennium’s most popular costumes. The ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s are particularly popular now. Search closets (your own, your parents’ and grandparents’) and area thrift and secondhand shops. • Recreate your favorite character, and keep spinning. The Wizards of Oz’s Dorothy, for example: Start with a pair of glittery ruby red high heels (purchase or make your own by mixing white glue and red glitter and painting a pair of old shoes), put your hair in ponytails, add a blue-and-white checked something or other (apron, shirt, shirt) for the basic Ms. D. Then add makeup and accessories. Werewolf Dorothy. Frankenstein Dorothy. Add fishnet stockings and a gingham mini-dress to become Sexy Dorothy. A layer of ragged gauze and some red-gray paint and you’re Mummy or Zombie Dorothy. • Buy the hat: It may be all you need to make the costume work. Get one of the popular character toppers at shops and you can wear it after Halloween, too, or spin it indefinitely. (See above: Become Rasta or Angry Bird zombie, mummy, etc.) • Get the mask: Just like the hat, it may be all you need to inspire infinite possibilities. Get a mask of your fave (or least-fave) politician, wear your old tux, a striped prison suit, or … come up with your own political commentary. • Add wings: Invest in a good pair and you can create an angel or fairy version of any old costume or pair with your favorite nightgown or white outfit for a more glam or ethereal look. Angelitos are always welcome at Día de los Muertos events and processions, and at RenFaire. In fact, angels are always welcome everywhere. • Pirates: All it takes is a patch, a scarf, a cardboard or rubber sword and a willingness to say “ARRGGG” a lot. • Good sports: Wear a jersey, team T-shirt or appropriate practice sweats and equipment. Print out a photo of your favorite sports idol, attach elastic to wear as a mask or glue on cardboard and mount on a stick to carry, and be prepared to sign autographs for fans or cope with disgruntled foes. • Ghosts: There’s nothing wrong with the classics. Find an old white sheet in the linen closet or a second-hand store, cut out a pair of eyeholes and you’re good to go. For chic haunts, consider a haute couture spook: start with a patterned designer twin sheet and accessorize with jewelry, belts, a cute little hat, great shoes and maybe some artfully draped cheesecloth. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450

Farm Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Farm life lessons learned the hard way LAS CRUCES — I was a state fair virgin until I moved to New Mexico. None of my friends or relatives had farms. I didn’t belong to 4-H or date a single member of Future Farmers of America when I was growing up. We had a little building in our suburban yard that had once been a chicken coop, but we used it for a playhouse. We three kids grew up with dogs, bunnies and mallard ducks, but they were considered family members. Our differently-specied brothers and sisters spent as much time in the house as we did, and you could expect to find a dog curled up on the couch or in your bed, hogging the pillows, and a half-dozen newly hatched Mallard ducklings snuggling on a heating pad on dad’s otherwise sacrosanct recliner. It seemed like an idyllic suburban childhood, but it was not untouched by agricultural realities, my childhood neighbor Linda recently reminded me. In the 1990s, after decades out of touch, in one of those New Mexico synchonicity milagros, Linda and I discovered we were living within a block of each other in the Las Alturas neighborhood. We’d grown up as K-12 next door neighbors in suburban Muskegon, Mich. There was still a patch of forest down the street in our ’hood, and both our backyards bordered a last little stretch of fenced land — I guess you could call it a pasture — where our friend Joni and her family decided to get what we all thought was a pet calf. The neighborhood kids and our ducky, doggy and rabbit siblings all seemed to enjoy getting to know the friendly little calf — known as Nicky, if I remember right. And Nicky liked us, too, coming up to the fence to greet us, and agreeably, if not enthusiastically, joining in our cowgirl and cowboy backyard adventures. Nicky got bigger and bigger, and finally went missing one day. No one prepared us for the horror that came next. I guess I can’t blame my tender-hearted parents, who stopped just short of demanding character references and a signed vegetarian oath before allowing the “adoption” of a single one of their Mallard duckling “grandchildren.” We’d just finished a round of “Clue” one day at Joni’s house. I was feeling pretty good about solving the Col. Mustard candlestick homicide when everyone else searching the mansion had zeroed in on Miss Scarlet and the pistol. Joni graciously invited us to stay for a bowl of yummy beef stew. You guessed it. After we’d chowed down, we learned that Nicky was not, and never had been, a brother, as far as Joni’s parents were concerned, nor even a pet. Nicky was lunch. Our lunch. That very lunch, in fact. And we were horrified. It was Twilight Zone’s “To Serve Man” episode and “Soylent Green” full-force shock and horror. Nicky was LUNCH! Never mind that we were the generation that consumed McDonald’s first billion burgers and enjoyed charcoal grilled steaks at least weekly. We didn’t make the connection. We didn’t know those burgers personally. I’ve become a state fair fan since moving here, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of adults and kids who work hard to raise everything from chiles and pecans to exotic chickens, sheep, goats, pigs and cows. I’ve covered 4-H competitions and watched kids carefully groom and prepare their critters for show, judging and sale. They’re nurturing, conscientious kids who are far more grounded in reality that I was. But I’ve heard some tales, and seen tears threaten when they talk about critters lost and, I think, loved. Agriculture takes a special kind of courage, whether you’re saying good-bye to a prize pig who’s become a pal, or fighting drought, economic pressures and encroaching subdivisions to bring in a crop and keep a farm in the family for another generation. Enjoy the carnival and funnel cakes at the fair this week, but save some time to tour the barns and exhibits and ponder what it takes to feed a nation. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.
Las Cruces Style — S. Derrickson Moore We have the world’s best fiestas LAS CRUCES — Most of my best fiesta memories seem to begin in Las Cruces. Having reached an age when childhood memories sometimes seem more vivid and accessible than where I put my keys 10 minutes ago, it’s surprising that I can’t recall a single memorable fiesta image or anecdote from my Michigan youth, and have only dim memories of interviewing lots and lots of Oregon rose queens at Portland’s annual Rose Festival. But switch to New Mexico and my mind’s eye conjures vivid images, starting with my first visit in the 1980s, landing at the Albuquerque airport during their balloon fiesta. What a welcome! In Santa Fe, I have fond memories of covering and attending Spanish Market, Indian Market, and best of all, the Zozobra burning fiesta, back in the golden olden days when we gathered to burn our troubles and celebrate all the tourists leaving for the season (now, many tourists come to see the big Z burn, and most locals stay home to avoid the crowds). I’ve partied with ETs at the Roswell UFO Festival and thoroughly enjoyed Balloon Regattas at Elephant Butte, Great American Duck Races in Deming and fiestas inspired by Geronimo and Ralph Edwards in Truth or Consequences. Let’s be honest, the best festivals on the planet are in New Mexico, and the best fiestas in New Mexico are in our territory. The Whole Enchilada Fiesta was my very first Las Cruces festival, when I moved here in 1994. I was burned out from my days as a festival marketer in Palm Beach County, where the parties cost zillions, but weren’t that much fun, and I probably would have skipped it (and maybe missed out on all our great fiestas) if I hadn’t been recruited by the Sun-News to volunteer at a soft drink booth. The fiesta was then in the pre-renewal Downtown Mall area and the still-shabby streets were transformed with the delicious smell of roasting chiles, and color, music, parades and fiesta-spirited people. Very nice people, I discovered. Many stopped to chat and offer tips on fun things to see and do. I came in a very good fiesta year. The Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference started a few months after I arrived, and so did the Doña Ana Arts Council’s annual ArtWalk, which has since evolved into a monthly downtown arts Ramble, and spawned assorted other regional arts walks and fine arts festival events. I was recently reminded that I was in on the ground floor of Día de los Muertos celebration revivals, the birth of ArtsForms February For the Love of Art Month (a whole fiesta month!) and here for the very first Border Book Festival. My extended family, some of whom came to live here, share my fondness for our fiestas. When I was introducing them to the wonders of the Land of Enchantment, I was particularly grateful for the contributions of Lalo Natividad and the late Richard Weeks, who founded El Grupo Cultural, credited with the revival of several traditional Borderland celebrations on the Mesilla Plaza and some new twists on several regional events, from the Mesilla Diez y Seis de Septiembre Fiesta and Cinco de Mayo to Christmas Eve on the Mesilla Plaza. During his very first visit here, then-baby grandson Alex the Great grabbed a pair of maracas and shook them during Cinco de Mayo (and I have — and cherish — the photos that prove it). He was about 3 when many of his Pacific Northwest family members decided to move here. I have fond memories of his first Mesilla Diez y Seis parade, when we went to watch his then teen-age aunt Tanya march with her high school band. Continuing what I have since learned is a tradition, many in parade cars and floats flung candy to kids along the route. Alex was too little to scamper far, and we were touched when older kids collected the sweet treats and gave them to my grandson and other toddlers not big enough to compete for booty. “People are very sweet here,” said my visiting friends and relatives. “I told you so,” I said. “And we also have the best fiestas on the planet. Maybe even the whole solar system.” And I have the fiesta memories to prove it. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.