From pancakes in the morning, to flag-waving parades and family-friendly activities in the afternoon, to a concert whose tickets will give you serious bragging rights, and, finally, to spectacular fireworks displays crowning the day, this year's Fourth of July promises to be the highlight of your summer.
Did we mention it's all happening right here in your neighborhood? And, it's all free?
"Fourth of July in Taos is always a fun-filled day, but this year is especially eventful," said Karina Armijo, Director of Marketing and Tourism for the Town of Taos.
Indeed, Taos officials and members of the surrounding communities have arranged a roster of holiday events celebrating the patriotic day with a healthy measure of community and conviviality thrown in.
For the second year, festivities on the Fourth will get rolling when the genial Town Mayor Dan Barrone and his family serve up a pancake breakfast on Taos Plaza, from 8-10 a.m.
Mayor Barrone said, "Taos is a town that is built on history and a great sense of community and togetherness. It is my honor to be able to host this breakfast where the people of Taos can come together and celebrate the great history of our nation and honor those who keep our flag flying. This is just a small way that we can give thanks to those serving, and those who have served, in the U.S. Armed Forces."
Later in the day, the town will be sponsoring the first of this summer's scheduled music events at Kit Carson Park with the exceptional, top-drawer appearance of the Grammy Award-winning band, Ozomatli. Gates open at 4 p.m. and music begins at 4:30 p.m. with Mariachi Teotihuacán and Nosotros opening for the danceable, family-friendly headliners.
The Los Angeles-based Ozomatli has been igniting the music scene for two decades with their classic and modern Latino sound, and urban, hip-hop, rock, salsa and cumbia grooves. Their most recent album reimagines classic and contemporary Mexican hits with inflections of reggae, ska, rocksteady and dancehall.
"Ozomatli performed at 2009's Taos Mountain Music Festival, in [Taos] Ski Valley, and they loved it here," Armijo said. "They're excited about coming back to town, and we're very excited about the concert, as well. It's going to be a great start to a summer full of music in Taos."
Nosotros, which performed last Fourth of July, is a home-grown New Mexican band with a devoted following from all corners of the state, and beyond. Their wildly popular Latin rhythms, combined with rock, salsa, jazz and cumbia, will have the audience up and moving. The equally well-received Mariachi Teotihuacán promises you music from the heart, "de puro corazon."
Taos Mesa Brewery will be hosting a beer and wine garden, and Whole Hog and other food vendors will be at the park. But picnicking is always an option, so bring your lawn chairs, come early and enjoy the show.
"This will be a special evening, one that is about celebrating ourselves, our town and each other. And the buzz the concert is generating has us expecting people from across the state and from Southern Colorado," Mitch Miller, Director of Facilities and Event Planning, said. "With crowd estimates of anywhere from 4,000 to 9,000, the Town's planners are busy ensuring a safe event for all."
When the concert is over at 9 p.m., stay in your seats for the best viewing of the fireworks sponsored by the Taos Fire Department. Fire Chief Leroy Gonzales said, "We've got a great 30-minute display planned, so enjoy the free concert and what we have planned for you afterwards." No need for fireworks of your own; in this summer's dry heat, it's best to leave it to the pros. "We have you covered with an amazing night," he emphasized.
Wondering what to do between pancakes and headliner music? You've got options all around the Taos region.
The fun and funky Arroyo Seco Fourth of July parade is well into its second decade, and has become a tradition for locals and visitors alike. Quirky costumes and unexpected floats are the hallmark of the self-organized event, which begins at noon. With more children's groups included, and cash prizes for floats in a variety of categories, this year's parade promises to be better than ever. Radio station KNCE-FM 93.5 will be providing a live remote from the parade.
Visitors, however, are encouraged to come early as State Road 150 is closed at the intersection with State Road 230 no later than 11:45 a.m. The merchant members of Arroyo Seco want to remind everyone that all of the shops and restaurants in this sweet little village will be open on the Fourth, so enjoy some retail therapy or get some breakfast while waiting for the parade to begin.
Afterwards, cool off in the Taos Ski Valley, where, beginning at 1 p.m., the "Mid-mountain Celebration" takes place on the Bavarian Lodge's deck with great beers and tasty brats awaiting you, and live music courtesy of the popular local blues and swing band, Out of Nowhere.
The TSV Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand with trucks and equipment to entertain and educate children of all ages. Then, you may want to brush up on your hula hoop skills, or sponsor a Field Institute of Taos rubber duck in a race down the Arroyo Hondo stream. As hot as it may be in town, bring a layer for the mountain; the temperature differential may surprise you, especially if you opt for a chair lift ride.
Further along the Enchanted Circle, Red River and Eagle Nest have their own schedules of inviting activities.
"For the 76th year, the town is hosting its annual Fourth of July parade," said Evan O'Rear, Executive Director of the town's Chamber of Commerce. "Anywhere from 50 to 200 floats have participated in the parade along Main Street, which grows in popularity with every given year."
After the parade, which begins at 10 a.m., Brandenburg Park becomes the epicenter of activities sponsored by the Chamber and Red River Community House. Traditional American family lawn games geared for all ages may earn you a ribbon; or, work up an appetite grooving to DJ J. P. at the pavilion, and stop by the Old Tymer's Cafe's hot dog and hamburger stand.
In Eagle Nest, Mayor Richard Córdova will join with the volunteer fire department in serving up an old-fashioned barbecue beginning at 11 a.m., and going "until the food runs out." Vendors of all sorts will dot the Enchanted Eagle Park, and at 2 p.m. the small village of less than 300 residents will impress you with its notable parade.
At dusk, fireworks will soar over Eagle Lake, reflecting in the still waters for twice the beauty. It's a breathtaking alternative for those who are unable to make it into Taos.
As we celebrate Independence Day, we also look to each other and stand united in our sense of community. We in Taos are the best of what America is, and we are the model of what our country can be. Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
Tickets for the Ozomatli concert may be reserved at www.HoldMyTicket.com.
For more on Arroyo Seco events, check out visitseco.com, as is taosskivalley.com for TSV, redriverchamber.org for your Red River inquiries, and eaglenestchamber.org for the happenings in Eagle Nest.
Be safe, don't drink and drive and party responsibly.