You light up mine life
Back in the 1920s, mine superintendent Oscar Huber was reportedly looking for morale-boosting ways to cheer up the hard-living miners of Madrid, New Mexico, when he came up with the idea of a holiday extravaganza of lights to celebrate Christmas. Historian Marc Simmons (who writes a Saturday column for The Santa Fe New Mexican) noted in a 2009 article that, “The several hundred miners routinely volunteered to work evenings after a hard day in the coal tunnels. They had to string 50,000 lights and build illuminated displays on hillsides and bluffs. Atop one of the hills, they put up a figure of Jesus more than 35 feet tall. Nearby, visitors were astonished to see a re-creation of the town of Bethlehem, newly constructed of wood and adobe. On the north end of town in the ballpark, the miners annually installed Toyland, perhaps their supreme achievement.”
Times have changed, but the tradition lives on. Madrid is an arts town these days, but it still celebrates Christmas with a village-wide gala of lights, a parade, and a visit by Santy Claus. Christmas in Madrid kicks off this year at noon on Saturday, Dec. 4, with a performance by belly-dancing youngsters, followed by a 2 p.m. gift-giving appearance by St. Nick at the Mine Shaft Tavern and a parade at 4 p.m. Local businesses will stay open late on Saturday night, and you can swing by the Mine Shaft for “World Lounge Music for Lovers Dinner Show” with Jill. St. Thomas and Glenn Neff. The belly dancers perform at Johnsons of Madrid, across N.M. 14 from the Mine Shaft, on the south end of town. The festivities continue every weekend until Christmas. Check out www.visitmadridnm.com/events.htm. for more information.