Hey, everybody, it’s time to make plans for the 4th of July holiday, the major summer celebration of the year – and no better place to spend it than on the N.M. Tech campus in Socorro, gearing up for its 27th annual all-day event.
Why leave town, when you have it all here in your own backyard - family fun, food and entertainment, music and dancing, games and activities for kids – an all-day extravaganza, minus the crowds, parking fees and long lines associated with big-city holiday events.
This year’s headliner is Al Hurricane Jr., a popular entertainer in his own right and son of the late Al Hurricane Sr., whose iconic presence graced the stage at past 4th of July celebrations in Socorro, along with his talented son.
New Mexicans remember the elder Hurricane as the Godfather of New Mexico Music, and his son and namesake has faithfully carried on that heritage.
The event is sponsored by N.M. Tech and the City of Socorro, two entities which over the years have collaborated to stage the biggest bash of the year, complete with a pyrotechnic display in the sky at the hands of the pros at Tech’s Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC).
Today, the annual holiday extravaganza attracts families near and far. With free parking, free sunshine (bring your own shade and sunscreen) and free entertainment on a day when freedom reigns.
“This is a busy time of year of us, and we are grateful to all the volunteers who help make this event such a success,” said Ronna Kalish, director of Tech’s Performing Arts Series (PAS), under whose wing the event is organized.
She launched the event nearly three decades ago to encourage locals to stay home for the mid-summer holiday.
They did, and since then scores of residents and volunteers have welcomed visitors to both Socorro and the N.M. Tech campus, a recognized oasis in the desert, to kick back and discover the fun that is, for so many, just outside their back door.
“We have a terrific and diverse entertainment lineup,” she continued, from hoop dancers to authentic cowboy music to the aforementioned headliner of the Hurricane heritage – and a popular dance band to close out the entertainment lineup before the fireworks show.
The Lightning Boy Foundation Hoop Dancers have a local connection through Sissy (Rosacker) McCord (Executive Director of Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, Socorro County Farmer and New Mexico Tech Alumnus), aunt of the young man for whom the Foundation is named and whose memory is celebrated.
Events kick off with a parade starting at 10 a.m. Participants are asked to register by June 28 at the Socorro Heritage and Visitors Center at 217 Fisher Ave., or check the website at www.socorronm.org for online registration.
“Warm summer days and the Fourth of July are truly made for N.M. Tech and Socorro,” Kalish said. “They remind people of the kind of neighborhood parties a lot of us grew up with, only bigger and better – especially since we’re fortunate to actually know our neighbors.”
Family activities — Hoop Dancers, Backstage at the Circus and Water Slides--are sponsored by the Betty Clark Memorial Endowment , established to support arts engagement activities for youth and families.
Fourth of July Schedule of Events
10 a.m. – The 4th of July Parade is a relatively new addition to the schedule that has grown to include four-legged friends, vintage vehicles and various and varied entries in homage to this historic city, drenched in tri-cultural heritage and seeped in scientific excellence. And ... then there’s the candy.
11 a.m. – As per tradition, the Socorro Community Band, led by the intrepid Eileen Comstock, will play traditional holiday marches and other favorites. John Philip Sousa died in 1932, but the military marches he composed are played still, and will be, thanks to Comstock and music teachers everywhere.
Noon – The Lightning Boy Foundation Hoop Dancers, appearing for the first time in Socorro, will perform their first of two shows at noon – the second is at 5 p.m. – a don’t-miss-this-event. The mission of this tribally inclusive group, created in honor of Valentino Tzigiwhaeno "Lightning Boy" Rivera, is to make the opportunities that Rivera loved available to as many youth as possible.
1 p.m. – Backstage at the Circus with Wise Fool NM, geared toward elementary-age kids and their families, gives audience members a peek behind the scenes at the big top. Tightrope walking, clowning, acrobatics, puppets, and of course a bit of magic will delight people of all ages.
2 p.m. – Doug Figgs, appearing this year with The Doug Figgs Trio, is one of the mainstays of this 4th of July celebration, and for a lot of good reasons, including winning the 2017 "New Mexico Music Awards" Best Western Song, "A Cowboy Like Me." Figgs, Mariam Funke and Clifton Murray are the real deal.
3:30 p.m. – Power Drive performs dance-friendly Latin and Top 40 hits that span the decades, including cumbia, salsa, rock ’n’ roll, old school and even some Bruno Mars, based on what the audience wants to hear. The group has from eight to 10 musicians onstage during a performance, playing two saxophones, a trumpet, varied percussion, keyboards and guitar.
5 p.m. – Lightning Boy Foundation Hoop Dancers encore performance.
5:30 p.m. – Al Hurricane Jr. (Alberto Nelson Sanchez Jr.) is known as "The Godson" of New Mexico Music, a nickname inherited from his father Al Hurricane, considered its "Godfather.” Hurricane Jr. comes from a family seeped in the traditions of Spanish and New Mexico music, backed by great musicians.
8 p.m. – Socorro’s own Suavecito, a six-piece variety band, will close out the music entertainment package with Spanish, country, oldies, funk, R & B, Top 40 and rock favorites. The band consists of two guitar players, bass, keys and drums. Members of the band include two former members of La Raza Unida, whose songs still air on 89.1 KANW in Albuquerque.
Dark – Fireworks show. Please leave your personal fireworks at home.