Española Electric Light Parade Keeps “Best In State” Status

by Staff Reporter / Dec 15, 2017 / comments
Jemez Electric Co-op took third place in their category with this float of the old Chile Line at the 2017 Española Electric Light Parade. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the

Española Electric Light Parade Keeps “Best In State” Status


Thousands of people lined Paseo de Onate for the 21st Annual Española Electric Light Parade, many of them parking trucks, vans, RV’s and Fifth Wheels along the parade route hours before the 6 pm start on Sat. Dec. 9. What started with some 12 floats on a “once around the Plaza de Española” spin 21 years ago in 1996, according to what parade organizer, Christine “Teeney” Bustos, related in her 20th Anniversary of the Electric Light Parade presentation, in 2016, to the Española City Council. That humble start has mushroomed into the biggest and best electric light parade in the state.

A crowd favorite and a perennial winner, the Cook’s float with Santa and Rudolph taking off with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen! Photo by Robert Naranjo for the

And, it appears that the Downtown Action Team Española (DATE), who sponsors it, the city, nor Bustos want to give up the prestigious title of “Best Electric Light Parade” in the state in the near future. Based on last Saturday’s stunning parade, they likely won’t any time soon.

Mayor Alice Lucero and Valley Children light City Christmas Tree which starts Elec Light Parade. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the

In what parade goers called “the biggest and best one so far” featured 47 floats with miles of parade. Many “electric” floats, in all sense of the word, had passed and when one looked north up Paseo de Onate, from the Plaza, there seemed to be an endless stream of floats that kept coming south on Paseo de Onate.

Chili Line Express. The name of the train and the name of a local band.  Photo by Robert Naranjo for the

An hour and 27 minutes after the 6 pm start of the parade after Mayor Alice Lucero, with the help of many Valley children, flicked on the switch to the city Christmas tree at 6 pm on the Plaza triggering the start of the parade on Industrial Park Road then south on Paseo de Onate.

City of Española official Christmas tree. At bottom of tree to the right is the silhouette of the City Parks and Recreation employees who did the work making this beautiful symbol of the Christmas Season. When the lights were turned on by Mayor Lucero and area children, the Electric Light Parade started on Industrial Park Rd. at 6 pm. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the

The theme was a “Chili Line Christmas” and there were many floats with elaborate DRGWRR (Denver and Rio Grande Western Rail Road) but many with non-Chili Line themes that were quite entertaining, i.e., 1932 Ford, 1949 Chev. truck, 1964 Chev. Impala, 1964 Chev. Impala SS, Cadillacs, Lincoln Continentals--a veritable rolling car show.

Likely appearing for the first time was the Robertson High School marching band from Las Vegas, NM. Even candidates for office were in the parade. With almost 50 entries, there was something to suit everyone’s likes.

One couple, Anthony and Margaret (last name not provided) from La Mesilla had a little table selling wands and other popular items that light up with batteries. They played New Mexico music from a small stereo. They told the that they do not miss a parade but this is their first try at selling items. They said that “this was the best one far” speaking of past parades.

The Española Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Junior Board got into the spirit, fielding this wagon float. Here they are putting the finishing touches on their float at the start location on Industrial Park Road before the sun went down. Courtesy photo

A woman standing in the median watching the parade go by, said she was proud of the parade and that it was something that makes the city stand out. She said that too often the city is portrayed in a negative light by the media and the Electric Light Parade is definitely a positive for Española.

A nativity scene with Mary and Joseph, after all it “Is the Reason for the Season.”. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the

John Ramon Vigil, who posts fascinating pictures of Española’s history on social media, and a candidate for city council, send results of the parade winners in different categories to the

“I am hearing very positive things! Makes me so proud to hear when the Valley shines,” Vigil said.

Here are the winners selected by the judges:

Best in Show:
  • 1st Place - Northern New Mexico Athletics
  • 2nd Place - Española Transit Mix
  • 3rd Place - Española Teen Court / EVHS JROTC
Big Commercial:
  • 1st Place - Española Transit Mix
  • 2nd Place - North Central Regional Transit
  • 3rd Place - Zia Credit Union
Small Commercial:
  • 1st Place - New Mexico Gas Company
  • 2nd Place - DeVargas Funeral Home
  • 3rd Place - Torres Towing and Recovery
Non Profit:
  • 1st Place - NNMC Athletics
  • 2nd Place - New Creations in Christ
  • 3rd Place - Jemez Mountains Electric Co-op
  • 1st Place - Española Teen Court / EVHS JROTC
  • 2nd Place - Española YMCA Teen Center
  • 3rd Place - Robertson High School Marching Band
  • 1st Place - Charles Vigil
  • 2nd Place - James Barela and Eric Martinez
  • 3rd Place - Valene Martinez