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Madrid, N.M., Celebrates the Holidays and Its History With Festivities

December 01, 2011

For those having trouble getting into the holidays, a trip to Madrid might help revive the Christmas spirit.

According to Melinda Bon’ewell, who is doing the marketing for the little town’s arts community, Madrid will be holding a kind of open house all month long.

Things kick off on Saturday, with a few galleries holding art openings and offering free cookies and hot chocolate.

The big event on the first Saturday of December happens just before sunset, at 4 p.m., when there will be a parade down Madrid’s main drag to the Oscar Huber Memorial ballpark. That parade is open to just about anyone who wants to show off their animal, artwork or their Madrid flair.

“It’s always fun and unique and funky,” she said.

It seems appropriate that the parade should end at the ballpark — where the Madrid artists’ community will meet up with a bit of the town’s history.

The ballpark ranks among the country’s first lighted ballparks, and it is there that they will light a display of old-timey trumpet players near the restored grandstands. After that, visitors can head back to see the town come alive with lights.

Christmas in Madrid has a grand history which has a lot to do with electric lights and its past as a mining town.

“Because of our coal mining, we had this huge power plant,” she said. “It supplied an immense amount of electricity.”

And that turned out to mean lots and lots of displays for the little town. Back then, it was something of a phenomenon.

It’s important to put the situation in context. These days it isn’t all that unusual for a neighbor to go a little nuts over the holidays and staple thousands of electric lights to his house. But just 70 to 80 years ago, airlines would re-route planes to fly over the electric light displays in Madrid.

In fact, in the 1930s and ’40s, articles about festivities in the little town appeared in publications all over the country, including Collier’s Magazine, Miami Daily News, the Los Angeles Herald-Express and the Chicago Tribune. Bon’ewell said the displays may have even inspired Walt Disney to include the Main Street Electrical Parade in his amusement park.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true,” she said.

The coal company showed off its power plant with about 100,000 electric bulbs, she said, and it lit up the hillsides with Christmas scenes.

Many of those old scenes still exist and will be on display again this year.

After the parade, visitors can stroll in and out of artists’ galleries, visit Santa Claus and maybe stop by a bonfire to sing carols, pet a dog, a donkey or an emu. After that, they can stop off for a drink and a little live music by Madrid’s bluegrass band, The Family Coal, at the Mine Shaft Tavern. The tavern will have live music Friday through Sunday, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

For more information about Madrid’s Christmas events and art openings, go to madridculturalprojects.info, visitmadridnm.com or call Bon’ewell’s gallery, Cowgirl Red, at 505-474-0344.

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Upcoming Event

Madrid Annual Christmas Parade (Dec 2)  and December Open House

Saturday, December 2, 4:00 pm
Come out to spend the day in Madrid, New Mexico's Christmas Town, and watch our annual Christmas Parade! The parade is our traditional kick-off to the Holiday Season. Businesses and homes in Madrid will be lighting their lights at sundown after the parade, with shop and home prizes for best lights. Weekends in December will be Open House in Madrid, with businesses open late Saturday nights leading up to Christmas, serving refreshments. While you shop and stroll, keep an eye out for local musicians. Santa will be in town weekend afternoons! The businesses in Madrid thank you for supporting local artists and businesses. We look forward to seeing you there!

Enjoy specials and live music at the Mine Shaft Tavern. FRI 15 NATHAN FOX in the Cantina 5pm
FRI 15 THE PALM IN THE CYPRESS in the tavern 8pm blues/folk
SAT 16 MINERAL HILL gypsy punkgrass at the cantina
SAT 16 SILVER STRING BAND bluegrass/Americana in the tavern 8pm
SUN 17 GREG BUTERA at the cantina 3pm
WED 20 THOMAS CHAMPAGE at the cantina 5pm
THUR 21 LUCY BARNA & LORI OTTINO at the cantina 5pm
THUR 21 The Goatheads in the tavern 7pm
FRI 22 LUCY BARNA & LORI OTTINO Americana at the cantina 5pm
FRI 22 TRUCKSTOP HONEYMOON alt/country in the tavern 8pm
SAT 23 KITTY JO CREEK at the cantina3pm
SAT 23 FRITZ AND THE BLUEJAYS rockinblues in the tavern 8pm
SUN 24 Christmas Eve specials and Live music 2-6pm
SUN 25 CLOSED
FRI 29 THE TODDLERS americana at the cantina 5pm
FRI 29 STRING DINNER bluegrass in the tavern 8pm
SAT 30 JIM AND TIM soulful blues at the cantina 3pm
SAT 30 HOGAN AND MOSS scorch folk in the tavern 7pm
SUN 31 KEY FRANCES BAND blues at the cantina 3pm
SUN 31 NEW YEARS EVE PARTY with JOE WEST & THE SANTA FE REVUE 8PM $10
Special Menu…call 505-473-0743 RSVP Dining Dancing and Fun!!

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