Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July: Independence Day!

Celebrating Independence Day is a time-honored tradition, even in the smallest of American towns. We don’t watch the biggest and fanciest parade on television on July 4th. We line the streets of our own hometowns and watch our neighbors as we celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On this day we honor the years of hard work, sacrifice and tremendous risks taken by our Founding Fathers to create the document which signaled a new country, a new hope, and a grand experiment in governing.

In Northern New Mexico, there are two tiny towns which preserve this tradition in their own unique way. Their hometown Independence Day parades are well-loved, and participated in by nearly as many who watch the festivities.

Arroyo Seco
Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, is located seven miles north of Taos. It is home to approximately 1,500 residents. As you are about to enter the village of Arroyo Seco, a road sign announces an upcoming ”congested area.” And on July 4th, a truer statement cannot be made. This usually sleepy village, filled with wonderful little galleries, shops and eateries, is transformed on the 4th of July. It starts early in the day, when lines of cars, pedestrians with dogs, and people on horseback can be seen making their way to Arroyo Seco. To us locals, this is as much a part of the 4th of July as the parade itself.

And the parade! Colorful floats, banners, unique costumes, more people on horseback, burros pulling carts, and a variety of other animals are as likely to be a part of the parade as the local fire department.

Red River
Set high in Northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Range of the southern Rocky Mountains, Red River was a booming mining camp in 1895, with strikes of gold, silver, and copper swelling its population to an estimated 3,000. A few years later, the mines went bust, and the majority of the camp residents moved on.
But the inhabitants of this gem of the Enchanted Circle are a hardy breed, and so Red River began its new identity as a resort town in ernest some 80 years ago.

Today, with a full-time population hovering around 500, the residents of Red River see long, cold winters, and more than their share of the “great indoors.” This has prompted the good people of this little town to celebrate everything there is to celebrate, and when they’re done celebrating, they find more things to celebrate! And in that spirit, an Independence Day parade has marched through the town of Red River for more than 70 years.

The parade does the folks of Red River justice, being a creative combination of good old-fashioned Old West mining town spirit and a kick-up-your-heels good time. It’s colorful and real “hometown,” with kids and dogs participating the same as floats and fire trucks. And when it’s over... it’s not over yet! Red River is a little town that does everything in a BIG way. After the parade, viewers stroll down to Brandenburg Park, where there is are games at the Community House, live music, delicious food, refreshing beverages, and good old fashioned family fun!

So if you find yourself in Northern New Mexico on the 4th of July, make a day of it in Arroyo Seco or Red River.

More on the 4th of July in Arroyo Seco and Red River

Arroyo Seco 4th of July Parade

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