Aztec event focuses on safe-driving tips, family fun

Hannah Grover The Daily Times
The Daily Times

AZTEC — A car, truck and motorcycle show at Minium Park here provided families with a fun way to spend time together Saturday.

The event, put together by ConocoPhillips, raised money for San Juan United Way, a nonprofit organization that focuses on community issues.

It also encouraged people in the community to drive safely by not texting while driving. Andrew Blea, a patrol officer with New Mexico State Police, was at the event to help raise awareness about the dangers of that practice.

"It's just like wearing your seat belt," he said about the importance of not texting while driving.

He explained that texting and driving is just as dangerous as drunken driving.

"A lot of people don't know that it's illegal to text and drive even when stopped at a stop sign," he said.

This is the second year that ConocoPhillips has hosted the event.

"We have a lot of our employees that live and work here, too, and we want to make sure we're being a good steward in every community we work in," said Amanda Aragon, the statewide relations adviser for the San Juan Business Unit of ConocoPhillips.

As a way of making the event more family friendly, the company added the Pinewood Derby this year. For $10, a child could enter his or her car in the derby. The Horton family spent $110 entering 11 children, including cousins, in the derby.

Jeremy Horton said it took family members all week to build the 11 cars, which were personalized for each child.

For instance, Jenna Horton, 4, had a "My Little Pony" car, featuring Twilight Sparkle from the television show.

"I like it going fast," Jenna said after she retrieved her car from the end of the track.

Building the cars was just as much a highlight for families as racing the cars.

Joe Sitta and his fiancée, Toni McKnight, took McKnight's daughter, Jadyn Saunders, 7, to the event.

"I remember my dad and I doing it when I was her age," Sitta said.

Sitta heard about the derby from his work at ConocoPhillips.

"I wanted to come out so that the kiddo and I could do some kind of activity together," he said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.