4th of July Electric Light Parade comes back bigger, brighter than ever
FARMINGTON – A large crowd started gathering around 7 p.m. downtown along Main Street to celebrate the return of a local Independence Day tradition, the 4th of July Electric Light Parade sponsored by the Farmington Rotary Club.
Many chairs were unfolded and sidewalks crowded by 9 p.m. on July 4 as the evening heat slowly receded. The crowd patiently waited for an event canceled at the last minute last year due to the pandemic.
Everything was a “go” this year.
Energy levels increased among the kids in the crowd as the sky darkened. Children hurled brightly-colored rings fashioned from glow sticks across Main Street to each other in a fast-paced game of catch near the corner of E. Main Street and N. Wall Avenue as the lead emergency vehicles began casting their own glow in the distance.
Then the sirens fired-up and an onlooker commented to those around him that he wondered how the first long fire engine would handle the nearby roundabout.
The size of the crowd surprised organizers who thought that due to the cancellation last year there might be fewer attendees.
“Everyone was just happy to get out,” said Farmington Rotary Club President Olena Erickson, who thanked city workers and the police department for their help in making the parade happen.
Erickson said she also expected fewer groups would pay the nominal entry fee and line up, but she was wrong.
There were 26 organizations represented in the parade and 32 vehicles and walking groups in the parade. They included AMF, which fielded a float and marchers, Navajo Agricultural Products, Inc., Daughters of the American Revolution and Desert River Guides.
There were also many participants from San Juan College, which even rolled out its Engine 1 fire truck painted in school colors.
Police Chief Steve Hebbe served as grand marshal, riding the parade route along with his wife, Janet. "He was in the 1965 Corvette, the year Mr. Hebbe was born," the club noted via email.
Winners were chosen among the brightly-lit entrants and marching groups via QR Code voting, which has been in place for a couple of years.
The First Place award went to The Potters House Christian Church, which fielded a float that mixed religious and patriotic themes. The church is on the move in more ways than one, noting in its entry materials that it is moving to a building at 4200 College Blvd.
“This is their third win,” the club said on its Facebook page. “Their floats are (a) true work of art. Congratulations.”
Second Place went to Farmington Area Single Track (F.A.S.T.) Group, which turned out many riders and marchers for the event, some of whom decorated their bikes with lights.
The group bills itself as an advocate for building, maintaining and preserving “non-motorized single-track in NW New Mexico for the greater good of our community and environment.”
Third Place went to Four Corners Tacos Inc./TACO BELL, with a float that featured two friendly burritos waving to the crowd while standing next to a $5 Taco Box as tall, dancing sauce packets joined other dancers and marchers on the street.
Honored Veterans of the Year were 2021 Veteran of the Year Julio Mendoza and 2020 Veteran of the Year Charles Casey.
“Thank you for your service,” the club said on its Facebook page. “ Without you we would not enjoy our peace, freedom and 4th of July Parade.”
Mendoza was drafted in the U.S. Army but volunteered in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1968 to 1972, and is a decorated Vietnam War veteran.
Casey joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating high school in 1962 and served as a Titan Two ICBM missile launch crewman until 1966, earning the Air Force Good Conduct Medal.
Fees from parade participants went to defray the costs of parade award plaques and other expenses.
Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e