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It dawned on me Thursday night, April 13, in the lobby of Allen Theatres’ Cineport 10, during the Las Cruces international Film Festival.
I had just come from the J. Paul Taylor Symposium at New Mexico State University, the first one since the great man’s passing.
It was also the night of the monthly Amador Al Fresco dinner, featuring live music and outdoor dining at the Amador downtown. I’ve enjoyed this event before but, unfortunately, I couldn’t be in three places at once. There was also high school baseball and softball being played in Las Cruces that night, and lots of other activities both formal and informal.
The film festival continued through the weekend. There was a Jon Pardi concert at the Pan Am Friday night. The Aggie baseball team was in town for three games, all of which they won. On Saturday night, the Aggies led Stephen F. Austin 9-7 going into the top of the ninth inning, only to give up two runs to allow SFA to tie. But all that did was set up a dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth walkoff home run by NMSU’s Preston Godfrey, a junior from Glendale, Arizona, for an 11-9 victory. The crowd, and the Aggie players, went nuts. And there were jazz and chamber music concerts Saturday and Sunday at NMSU.
So, it dawned on me.
Hey, the pandemic is over.
From 2000-2019, Las Cruces grew enough that, many nights, if you wanted to go out and do something, you had to make a choice. All kinds of activities were going on all the time. Of course, Covid changed all that.
But after all the false starts of the pandemic years, it feels like – and I don’t want to jinx it – things are back to normal.
Of course, Covid is still lingering around. Just last week I heard from a friend of a friend about a local gathering that spawned a few cases. And you’ll still see people wearing masks occasionally, due to certain susceptibilities, or on people in positions of healthcare or food service.
For the most part, though, it’s business as usual, as we finally feel comfortable again dining out, going to a crowded movie, or gathering with friends and family for a dinner or a cookout.
Going back to the Las Cruces International Film Festival, this event has really grown into itself.
The festival has always been a fun event, and enabled Las Crucens to get up close and personal with some big names from movies and TV. I’m not ready to call it the Sundance or Cannes Film Festival yet, but we consistently have a great group of film and television professionals coming into town. Not just to flash their names, but to genuinely help our budding film talent from NMSU and Doña Ana Community College. The quality of films submitted to the festival seems to continually get better as well.
Kudos to festival director Ross Marks and his great team of students and volunteers who work their magic to make the festival better every year.
And to all of our friends and acquaintances who we haven’t seen much in the past three years, welcome back.