Inside the Capitol

Thursday, May 07, 2009

5-18 Finally, A Fun-Filled May Day

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- At last, New Mexico had its first fun-filled May Day weekend in 50 years. May Day was fun when I was growing up in Deming, NM.
Before I was school age, my mother would make little baskets of flowers, then have me deliver them to little girls' houses, ring the doorbell, then run and hide. It was fun even though I hadn't figured out why girls were special yet.
When I got to school, we always had an afternoon assembly to watch the sixth graders wind the May Pole. We never were taught why we celebrated May Day, probably because it never had been anything more than a pagan rite of spring.
But dark storm clouds were gathering. In big cities and in many nations around the world, the first day of May was a time to honor workers. Then communist nations chose it as a time to parade their military might. And everything changed.
The United States already had changed its Labor Day to September. Any remaining workers' celebrations on May 1st were discontinued. May Day was also sometimes called Loyalty Day to distinguish us from communists and from rowdy labor demonstrations.
Then the American Bar Association came up with Law Day, which they got President Eisenhower and Congress to officially declare. We don't hear much about the day but the Albuquerque Journal, and maybe other papers around the state had a two-page spread advertising the day this year.
But this May Day weekend was different for many New Mexicans. In Silver City, world champion bicyclist Lance Armstrong and two of his team members were given permission by the International Cycling Federation at the last minute to enter the 23rd annual, five-day Tour of the Gila.
It was a warm up for a major race in Spain, leading up to the Tour de France. Armstrong and his team had been training near Aspen but the weather was much nicer in the Gila Wilderness.
Cycling fans came from all over the world to watch or participate in the event. Foreign television stations covered it. Needless to say, Armstrong's presence and his pleasure with the area was an economic boon and made residents very happy.
Then there was the special May 2 launch by UP Aerospace of a rocket laden with educational experiments. Students from high schools, colleges and universities throughout central New Mexico had been planning for this for months.
A large crowd turned out to witness the spectacular launch of the 20-foot tall rocket. It didn't quite reach space but it went far enough to provide sufficient data to make the experiments worth it.
In another space related item, UFO investigators at Roswell announced that they have uncovered artifacts at a site where a SciFi Channel dig occurred in 2002. They are now trying to get it identified.
In perhaps the weekend's most exciting news, a New Mexico owned and trained horse won the Kentucky Derby going away. Mine That Bird, owned by Mark Allen's Double Eagle Ranch and Dr. Leonard Blach's Buena Suerte Equine in Roswell confounded all the tipsters who had picked him to run last.
Mine That Bird was trained by Bennie "Chip" Woolley of Bloomfield and ran at Sunland Park, south of Las Cruces. So, much of the state had reason to celebrate.
The Kentucky Derby elite weren't sure a bunch of cowboys from New Mexico had any business even being at their Derby. They reported not exactly receiving a warm welcome but the world knows who they are now.
Mine That Bird's two races in New Mexico were stakes races at Sunland Park in which he finished second and fourth. What got Mine That Bird into the Derby was three victories as a two-year old at a track in Toronto Canada. Maybe a fourth place horse from Sunland, who wins the Derby will bring a little recognition to Sunland.
To top it off, New Mexican Garrett Gomez rode Pioneer of the Nile to a second place finish.
MON, 5-18-09

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)

This will be the last column for awhile. I should be able to get some to you from Maui. cell phone usually works. 505-699-9982.


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