In Mountainair right now, a town so small if you sneeze driving through you might miss it, there are 75 homes and businesses decorated for the holidays in preparation for the town’s first Christmas Cruise.
Mayor Peter Nieto said the weekend will be filled with Covid-safe events to put residents in the holiday spirit.
On Friday, Dec. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m., Mountainair will hold a Christmas Cruise, where people can drive around town and see the entire town lit up with Christmas lights, and on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m., the town will have its annual Christmas Parade, which will go through all the back streets since the state isn’t issuing any parade permits for Highway 60, said Nieto.
“Basically, what [the Cruise] is going to entail is everyone will have their lights plugged in,” he said. “We tried to encourage more people to put up their lights even if it’s just the window. We’re going to have several houses, two for sure, but possibly three that are going to be giving out special items in the drive-thru type status. Complete with masks, the whole nine yards. One house is going to be giving away candy canes and hot cocoa to any car that comes. My house is going to be giving away little Mountainair Christmas ornaments that we ordered for the Mountainair Jubilee Committee … It’s basically just like back in the day when we used to get in the car with grandma and grandpa and go for a ride and look at all the lights.”
Nieto said the cruise will be informal and residents don’t have to start at a particular place. There’s also an interactive Google map he created that shows all participating towns and businesses that can be found on the town’s Facebook page.
He also said he idea for the cruise actually came earlier in the summer. “We did a town cruise, I would say it was pretty early on, I think June, and at that point we partnered up with different restaurants,” he said. “We can’t party together, but what if we cruise around town and wave to each other just like the old days.”
“We actually go through the back roads of town, so that our elderly that are homebound can see the parade out their window,” he said.
The Christmas Parade is smaller than the Fourth of July Parade, Nieto said, but it’ll have firetrucks, police vehicles, public works vehicles with lights, a few cars with lights, and a decorated school bus. “[On the bus we’ll] put things like, ‘you are not alone,’ because we just see the suicides happening across the state and just in different places, so we just want to put something for the kids in there,” he said.
Nieto said Maria Rubi is his “partner in crime” when it comes to the Jubilee Committee, because he’s the president and she’s vice-president, so she’ll be helping with these events as well.
“We just started from the bottom and started to bring it right back up and the Christmas events, they just brought it, we need to get it bigger,” Rubi said. “We just started talking to everybody and seeing if more people want to get involved.”
She said the Jubilee Committee started about three years ago and has grown tremendously since then with some help from the community. “With everybody’s help and support, we wouldn’t have got this far with our Christmas parades or Fourth of July events,” she said. “I really do appreciate everybody that comes in and helps us and supports us and is here for us.”
Steve Hill and his husband Erick Wilson moved to Mountainair in June 2019 after they retired; the pair lived in Colorado before that, but “decided to move down to our paradise sooner than later.”
“We couldn’t be happier to be honest with you,” Wilson said. “We have been watching this town for a long time, and we found the home of our dreams here, watching this mayor do some of the most amazing things has been a big part of why we ended here. He’s smart, he’s proactive, he loves the community and the people in it, and it’s been absolutely amazing. We can’t even imagine living anywhere else now.”
Wilson said the couple decorated their home for the cruise, and while they didn’t really help with the parade, the two are “planning on being a couple of old people and watch the parade go by.”
Hill said the town of Mountainair is extremely special to him. “There’s no perfect place, but oh my gosh, to have a mayor, and a town and community and citizens that are this amazing is better than we could have imagined,” he said.
Nieto said he doesn’t actually come up with all the ideas for the town, but a lot of people think he does. “They’re ideas that transform,” he said. “I say this from the very get-go, a lot of people always give me a lot of credit for a lot of things … These are not my ideas. People talk to me, and they say, ‘This would be cool,’ and then I run with it. This is how I’ve always done my mayorship. In a way, it’s the people that inspire me to do these things, and that’s how it goes.”
Rubi said she loves seeing families together. “I know now with this pandemic going on we really can’t get together, but we try to show families we can still do things and have that smile,” she said. “Just seeing families have smiles on their faces and everything, it just makes me, I enjoy it. I’m also a home visitor and helping my families also … and helping the community in the way I can help. I just love seeing everybody smile and be happy and having a good time.”