The fire dog mascot greets youngsters attending the Eastern New Mexico State Fair parade Monday morning. (Mark Wilson Photo)
At 10 a.m., on a chilly Monday morning, thousands of Roswell residents attended the Eastern New Mexico State Fair parade.
â€œI thought it was awesome,â€ Ronald Ranes, a Roswell resident, said. â€œIt was longer, it was more kid-friendly. … It was well worth it.â€
Prior to the parade, people camped out along the streets in great anticipation. The scene was reminiscent of a tailgate party without the barbecue, but with plenty of fans in attendance waiting for parade festivities to begin. The young, the old, moms with strollers, street vendors, war veterans, and many students who had the day off from school, lined the streets with their cameras in hand and a look of expectancy.
The parade began with a loud cry from police sirens traveling south on Main Street toward downtown. Officers from the Chaves County Sherrif f’s of fice, Hagerman, Lake Arthur and Roswell rode by jubilant onlookers. The fire departments of Berrendo, Hagerman, Roswell and Sierra soon followed too. However, it was the New Mexico Department of Public Safety that had the biggest entrance, riding past spectators in an 18- wheeler truck, while blaring out its loud welcoming horn.
There were about 100 entry-participants in the parade, including Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Southeastern New Mexico, Eastern New Mexico University -Roswell , Health Quest Safety, New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell Regional Hospital, Roswell Kiwanis, Roswell Shriners, Roswell Rotary Club and the Boys & Girls Club.
â€œI especially enjoyed it this time,â€ Rhonda Spears, Roswell resident, said. â€œI got set upâ€”I was able to take all of the pictures I wanted to. They had quite a bit to offer. I saw a lot more of the political candidates in this one than in past years.â€
Mondayâ€™s parade also doubled as a float and performance competition for civic clubs, government organizations, local high school and middle school bands, commercial and non-commercial organizations and youth organizations. Five judges were charged with competitive judging. Parade entries were split into nine categories, including special spirit award and grand champion.
â€œWe have the ability to give any special awards in case something does not fall into a category and looks good,â€ Howard Perry, parade judge, said.
Judges used subcategories to score entry-participants and performers. Such categories included cheer, creativity, elementary, middle and high school bands, float, football (youth organizations), music, originality, overall general effect, stage presentation, uniform and workmanship.
The top winners of each category were announced at 3:30 p.m. at the Eastern New Mexico Parade Fairgrounds at 2500 SE Main St.
The winners are as follows: Best Float, youth organization â€” Roswell Youth ChalleNGe; Novice cheerleading â€” Roswell Youth Football Greyhounds; Best Elementary/ Middle School Band â€” Mason Middle School; Best Middle School Cheer â€” Berrendo Middle School; Best High School Band â€” Roswell High School; Best Senior Cheer Group â€” Roswell High School; Commercial division â€” Southwest Wireless; Non-Commercial â€” All Saints Catholic School; Civic Clubs â€” Rotary Clubs of Roswell; Special Spirit Award â€” Roswell Youth Football Trojans; Grand Champion â€” First United Methodist Church. The winning float featured a large black Bible with the words â€œHoly Bibleâ€ in gold lettering, with a large white hand below the lettering alongside the Bible.
â€œâ€¦[We] had entries that were better than any weâ€™ve ever seen of the sweepstakes winner [like] First United Methodist [Church],â€ Phil Brewer, parade superintendent said. â€œThereâ€™s no telling how many hours went into the creation of that, and how many volunteers had to be involved to make that happen. It makes me feel excited that somebody takes it that seriously to work on it as hard as they obviously did â€” to come up with that float â€” it was a thing of wonder.â€