Hot air balloon burners light up the night sky during MainStreet Roswell’s 24th annual Electric Light Parade, Saturday. Mark Wilson Photo
Roswell residents lined up along Main Street on a warm December night to take in the sights and sounds of the Electric Light Parade, a holiday celebration that commemorated 100 years of New Mexico statehood.
The annual event put on by MainStreet Roswell set the tone for the season with 25 floats that lit up downtown Roswell, while a Chr[auth] istmas caroling contest brought out contestants in vintage clothing from the early days of New Mexico.
“The people who are dressed up from the ’20s look really cool,” said Roswell resident Daniel Gladu, who brought his wife and two children. He added that Saturday’s Electric Light Parade was his first, and while gesturing to those in the long coats and hooped dresses behind him, said an event like this is all about community. “It’s awesome that everybody is out and having a good time. It’s cool like that.”
Of those dressed for the occasion was Erin Anderson with Accidental Harmony, a seven-person choir group from Hobbs that took first place in the contest.
“When we got here, we just went up and down Main Street and sang for shops and people who were there,” Anderson said. “It was so cool to have audiences and see their faces. It was fantastic.”
The recently formed group, which plans to sing at other Christmas events later this year in Hobbs, managed to stop traffic a few times with both its singing and vintage look, Anderson said. “It makes you feel so good when people gather around. People from down the street would walk to us. … They would just gather, and you’d see their faces light up. It’s so great.
“There’s a bond you form with the people you’re singing with, and there’s nothing like making harmony and blending and just having fun with each other. And just to share that with everybody else, it’s just so amazing.”
Residents Marcos Casarez and his wife Katie said they have taken their 4-year-old son Alex to the Electric Light Parade each year since he was born.
“Honestly it’s more for him,” Marcos said. “He likes to see the lights — and Santa.”
“I think it’s great to see all the lights,” Katie said.
“It’s something to do,” Marcos said. “It’s something to get you out of your house and come out here with everybody. We rarely get downtown so it’s nice when they have these things.”
Calvary Baptist Church generated loud cheers with its rotating birthday cake that marked 100 years for the Land of Enchantment, taking home first place in the church group category, and Old Timers Balloon Club showcased five gondolas on its float and wowed residents with flames set to music, winning first in the nonprofit category. Other first-place winners were Krumland Auto Group in the commercial category with a lighted fire truck, Girl Scout Troop 31 in youth group and The Family Affair Bell Train in individual.
MainStreet Roswell president Peggy Seskey said 55 total pieces of moving equipment took part in the parade. Participants included local car clubs and churches as well as a number of nonprofits such as Roswell Refuge, Senior Olympics and Toys For Tots, which handed out toys to children from eight vehicles.
In the Caroling Contest, First Baptist Church and City Councilor Jason Perry’s family took second and third place, respectively. Other participants included singers from The Salvation Army and Roswell High School.