Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Humunga enchilada's back, dragon will return in 2014

By S. Derrickson Moore
Magellan the dragon and the World’s Largest Enchilada are back!
Nope, it’s not the plot of the latest sci-fi flick (though you could do worse; aspiring filmmakers, take note). It’s evidence, at a time we really need it, that community spirit will get you through times of limited money better than money could get you through times of no fiesta spirit.
Just a year ago, it seemed that Las Cruces’ crumbling fiesta infrastructure would mean a sad “adios” to some of our most beloved festival institutions.
Robert Estrada’s humongous concoction, which once won the Guinness Book of Records title of World’s Largest Enchilada, was absent from the 2012 Whole Enchilada Festival. But community leaders rallied, purchased some new equipment, and the legendary founder of Roberto’s Restaurant — and the Whole Enchilada Festival, itself, newcomers should know — was back leading the TWEF parade and on site with his crew the next morning, cooking up the giant treat once again.
We’d hardly wiped the spicy red chile enchilada sauce off our chins when the good news came this week that Magellan the dragon will be back, too, and stationed in the pond at Young Park during the Doña Ana Arts Council’s Renaissance ArtsFaire Nov. 2 and 3.
Last year, it seemed the brave creature had sacrificed himself in a last blaze of glory during the New Mexico Centennial Parade, where the dragon literally fell apart valiantly promenading down Las Cruces streets.
Only the dragon’s head put in an appearance at last year’s RenFaire. Not in the lake, but convalescing in a “hospital tent,” where kids and faire-goers were asked to contribute to his repair and recovery.
ObamaCare doesn’t cover dragons, but collaborative community spirit does.
“We raised about $1,000 at the faire. And then Pat Hynes stepped in and got the New Mexico State University engineering department’s Capstone program involved,” said Kathleen Albers, DAAC’s executive director.
They worked with artist Bob Diven, New Mexico Renaissance man and designer of the beloved beast.
“The dragon shed his skin,” Albers reports, and thanks to the collaboration, has been renewed, reborn — reincarnated, even. A phoenix has risen from the ruins in the kind of artistic milagro that could only happen in Las Cruces.
“The Renaissance meets the Space Age!” Albers said.
The new incarnation will be a lean, mean, smoke-breathing, head-turning, solar-powered dragon machine, with photovoltaic scales. “Magellan will be a little bit shorter and lighter, so he’ll fit inside his storage shed. And he’ll be back in the lake and he’ll be able to turn his head when canoes come by or something catches his attention. And he’ll be able to breathe smoke,” Albers said.
That will be a first.
“He never did breathe fire. Some people said he did, but that was just a rumor,” she said. There are also murmurs about a sex-change operation. Diven has said he always thought of his creation as a “she,” through the public seems to regard the beast as boyish. But what’s important is that Magellan is back, like the big enchilada, as a result of dauntless fiesta spirit.
In 2013, our querencia is, like our peppers, on a hot streak — spicy, working together, healing, filled with Full-Tilt Fiesta Season spirit and, well, smokin’. That’s pretty nice, and refreshing, in a month that started with a governmental shutdown, a national manifestation of can’t-do deadlock, just the opposite of our local down-home cooperative spirit.
Maybe it’s time we take Robert and the dragon on tour with a first stop at the U.S. House of Representatives, to demonstrate how we can transform hot air into sublimely roasted chile enchilada components.
I can’t wait for the movie version. We could call it “Mr. Estrada and Magellan Go To Washington.”

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