Portales gets head start on holiday

Freedom New Mexico: Thomas Garcia Western Enterprises, pyrotechnic workers, Cody Brooks and Kamdron Kralik work on the fireworks Thursday in preparation for the annual Independence Day fireworks show at Greyhound Arena.

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

Portales residents started celebrating their independence a day earlier this year at the second annual Smokin’ 3rd of July Bash.

Slowly over the afternoon hours more than 150 people gathered at Greyhound Arena to enjoy the music, food and vendors at the bash.

“It is doing pretty good even though it is only the second year they have had this event,” said Fabby Pettus of Portales.

If people were not gathered under the tents enjoying the shade and live music, they were frequenting one of the vendors, who offered belt buckles, tin signs, crafts and more.

Food vendors did well, also.

“We have probably sold 135 plates of BBQ in just a few hours,” said Randy Small, owner of Bum Steer BBQ.

“In three hours we have used about 80 pounds of ice, making about 150 snow cones,” said Norma Griffin, owner of Windy Point Snow Cones. “It’s a hot day and what better way to cool off than a snow cone.”

There were games for the kids to enjoy like a ring toss, and 9-year-old Mia Gallegos of Portales was a ringer.

“I like winning prizes,” Gallegos said, laughing.

While most were out for fun and games, some were working for the good of others, such as the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas.

The food bank was holding a raffle for a chance to win one of three $50 gas cards, with all proceeds going towards the food bank, said food bank member Valerie Shines Warmly Pacini.

While people were enjoying the bash, thoughts of the night’s fireworks show were beginning to surface.

“I’m ready for the fireworks,” said 8-year-old Daniel Gallegos. “I like the loud ones the best.”

Pyrotechnic crews with Western Enterprises, based out of Oklahoma, set up for the night’s spectacular while people were busy with the bash.

“We are going to put on a great show,” said Jay Scott, a Western Enterprises employee, before the show.

Fireworks included shells ranging in size from 3- to 5-inches, with multi-shot boxes set off as well, Scott said.

“We have been coming to New Mexico for eight years putting on shows and look forward to it every year,” Scott said.