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AZTEC – Shortly after the doors opened Saturday for the Kinteel Residential Campus Inc.'s inaugural gourd dance, about 75 people filled the Aztec Boys & Girls Clubs gym, and the number was quickly increasing.

People from all over the Four Corners showed up to show support for the dormitory students and the Boys & Girls Clubs. The money raised during the event will help students who live at Kinteel go on a senior trip to Denver.

The gourd dance is one of the ways Kinteel and the Aztec Boys & Girls Clubs are teaming up this year, and Mike Patch, the Aztec Boys & Girls Clubs executive director, said they hope to make it an annual event.

"Aztec doesn't always get the culture (events), and it's great to see," he said.

The gourd dance is named for the "gourds" the dancers carry, which are shaken to make rattling noises. The dances are traditionally performed by veterans like Raymond Pete, who served in the U.S. Army from 1968 until 1972, including in the front lines during the Vietnam War.

Pete considers himself fortunate to have survived the war and returned home. One of the two gourds he carries during the dance is decorated with red, yellow and green beads — the colors of the Vietnam flag.

He said he attended the gourd dance on Saturday to honor the young people of the community through dance, including the students at Kinteel and the work done by the Boys & Girls Clubs to help children prepare for the future.

"It's an open door for young kids," he said about the Boys & Girls Clubs. "We cannot ignore our young kids."

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

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