Music, parade and more this Fourth of July
By Zak Hansen
For the Las Cruces Bulletin
The Mesilla Valley comes to life this weekend for Independence Day weekend with events all across town as we celebrate 239 years as a country, 103 years of statehood and 166 years as the township of Las Cruces.
Festivities begin at 9 p.m. Friday, July 3, with the City of Las Cruces’ annual Electric Light Parade, which has lighted the streets of Las Cruces for more than 25 years. This year, the parade will begin in front of City Hall, 700 N. Main St., to Church Street to Water Street and ending at the intersection of Main Street and Picacho Ave.
This year’s parade theme is “Let Our Freedom Ring,” and will be led by 2015 Parade Marshal Marla Ridgeway.
“Martha has served on the Fourth of July committee for 14 years and has been the chair of the committee four times, and we thought we would honor her this year for her involvement,” said Robert Caldwell, special events coordinator for the City of Las Cruces.
Judging will take place and awards will be presented for best overall float as well as first-, second- and third-places commercial and non-commercial.
Independence Day fun resumes at noon Saturday, July 4, at the High Noon Soccer Complex, part of the Field of Dreams, 2051 Tashiro Road, as the City of Las Cruces brings its “Teen Van” filled with games and activities for youth, on site until 4 p.m.
At 3 p.m., an afternoon and evening of live music begins with Las Cruces country singer- songwriter Vince Alten. At 4 p.m., Albuquerque folk/pop/ rock group The Noms take the stage, followed at 6 p.m. by fivetime Grammy-nominated country singer-songwriter Mark Willis, and at 7 p.m. by Los Angeles- based The Calling, best known for 2001’s “Wherever You Will Go,” before ceding the stage to the evening’s headliner, The Family Stone.
Central to the 1960s and ’70s boom of funk, soul and psychedelic music, The Family Stone, led by singer-songwriter and musician Sly Stone, was responsible for some of the era’s biggest lasting hits including “Everyday People,” “Dance to the Music,” “Family Affair,” “Everybody is a Star” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” While Sly Stone left the group in 1983, The Family Stone continues the band undeniable legacy today.
Following the concert, beginning at 10 p.m., Mayor Ken Miyagishima will give his welcome and present awards to winners of the previous day’s Electric Light Parade. After the singing of the National Anthem, prepare as the city presents its stunning aerial fireworks display.
Last year’s move to the Field of Dreams complex was criticized by some in the community, especially due to problems with traffic and the lack of interaction with the entertainment, issues which will hopefully be addressed with a few simple changes, Caldwell said.
“It’s important that people know this event is put on by the city for the public and we do listen to the public, though it may not seem like it,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we moved the location to the soccer fields, so they would have better interaction and better viewing of the evening’s entertainment.
“This year, we are moving east of the stadium to the High Noon Soccer Complex, but still in the same area off of Tashiro Road. We are moving there to give the public a better vantage point of the bands and the fireworks. It’s more open-air and there’s less in the way like the stadium seating, so it will probably be a better vantage point.”
Traffic should be easier this year than last, when long wait times to exit the complex plagued many attendees, another issue Caldwell said should be somewhat abated — though with thousands of residents in the same place at the same time, some amount of patience is a given.
This year, Tashiro Road from Valley Drive will be closed as an entry point to the grounds, serving only as an exit following the evening’s end. Attendees should enter the complex via Motel Boulevard and Tashiro Road.
As always, the City of Las Cruces Electric Light Parade and Fourth of July Celebration are free and open to the public. Pets are not allowed, and to keep everyone safe, no fireworks are allowed in public spaces.
For more information, visit http://las-cruces.org.
The town of Mesilla will also host a Fourth of July celebration from 7 to 9 p.m. on the plaza featuring a performance by Las Cruces’ Latin Funktion and their unique fusion of Latin rhythms with jazz, salsa and reggae sounds. Following the concert at 9 p.m., the town’s fireworks display, sponsored by Planet Fireworks, will take place just down the road at the corner of Avenida de Mercado and Calle de Mercado. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome, but leave the pets and alcohol at home, as per town ordinance. For more information on Mesilla’s Fourth of July celebration, call the Special Events Department at 5713890.
Zak Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.