Thursday, January 16, 2014

A fiesta for fiesta planners

Want to get a drop on 2015?
I asked if any if you have ideas for fiestas to liven up the next year in general and January in particular, and Joni Johnson of Las Cruces is already coming up with some ideas for New Year’s celebrations in 2015.
“Some combination of your recent columns about downtown events and coverage of ‘wacky’ New Year’s Eve celebrations (e.g. the possum drop in Georgia) fomented in my brain, leading to this suggestion: How about next year we have a chile drop downtown? My husband and I tossed the idea back and forth and we envision an LED-covered chile that starts out green and turns red as it descends. I’m sure our engineering students could easily create it, given current LED technology. Vendors could sell tamales and hot cocoa, and a mariachi band could play ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ It’s a wild idea, but New Mexico is all about wild ideas, after all,” Joni notes.
I agree. Maybe, incorporating all of Joni’s imaginative ideas, we could work out some kind of cross-promotional deal with the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute and the New Mexico Chile Conference (this year’s conference will be Feb. 3 and 4, the Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces), the Hatch Chile Fiesta, held on Labor Day weekend, the fall SalsaFest and the November Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference.
Or we might go even bigger and do a January event that resurrects an old slogan touting Las Cruces as the city of festive moods and fiesta attitudes and make it a sampler for all our festivals: the FTFS (Full-Tilt Fiesta Season) Fiesta!
We could start with the chile drop Joni envisioned and maybe include a big New Year’s Eve benefit ball or bash (something that’s been lacking in recent years) at some place like the Rio Grande Theatre or NMSU’s new Center For the Arts, depending on where we decide to drop the chile ball. Since NMSU will be on holiday break, it might be more logical to use it as an opportunity to showcase downtown renovation progress, with events at downtown theaters, restaurants, galleries and businesses. Maybe one or more of the city museums could host special events for kids, like arts and crafts classes, games, or even a New Year’s Eve “night in the museum” sleepover party.
Then, to cover more bases and avoid iffy weather issues, we could move the FTFS Fiesta indoors to the Las Cruces Convention Center, where all the major annual festivals could have booths where they could publicize their attractions and recruit sponsors and volunteers, if needed.
Smart fiesta planners could also offer samples of the things that make their festivals great. Imagine a modest six-foot version of Roberto Estrada’s world-record setting creation for the Whole Enchilada Festival. How about mini exhibition heats to convey the excitement of Deming’s Great American Duck Race or Tortugas San Juan Fiesta Turtle Races? There could be free or low-cost samples or information about all the things we celebrate with festivals here in the Mesilla Valley: New Mexican wines and beers, pecans, chiles, art, cowboys, frontier days, Renaissance days, books, dance, country music, jazz, Borderland holidays, national holidays, religious holidays, veterans, mazes, balloons, space (the Spaceport, space pioneers, and our three regional space museums), films, the seasons... whew!
Well, you get the idea. Anything that celebrates life (and death: don’t forget Día de los Muertos) could be highlighted in our annual FTFS Fiesta. And I haven’t forgotten Plutopalooza, the fiesta I’ve proposed to celebrate the July 14, 2015, arrival of the New Horizons probe, with Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes on board, to the little heavenly body Clyde found in 1930. More on that soon.
With creativity, ingenuity, hard work and dauntless fiesta spirit, we’ve fielded some wonderful, imaginative, inspirational, and entertaining celebrations, and perhaps more fiestas per capita than any place on the planet.
With a little FTFS Fiesta planning and promotion, 2015 could be the year we are justly recognized as Earth’s Fiesta Central.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter and Tout or 575-541-5450.

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