As part of the celebration of Bandelier National Monument’s 100th birthday and the Centennial of the National Park Service, Bandelier held a reunion Saturday, July 23, inviting present and former employees as well as anyone with close personal connections to the park.
Nearly 200 people attended, counting current staff as well as those who came from near and far.
The event was partnered with the Friends of Bandelier, and included special guided walks, a catered dinner, speeches and a classic, amazing Frijoles Canyon sunset.
Among those attending were some who had worked at the monument in the 1970s (including John Lissoway, Bob Belden and Ed Greene). One of the rangers on duty, Chris Judson, has been on staff at Bandelier since 1976. There also were employees’ children, born when their parents worked at Bandelier, who attended with their own children, and some of them also had worked at the park. Longtime community members, volunteers past and present, Friends’ board members, Artists in Residence, researchers, authors and others also attended the special event.
Arnold Herrera of Cochiti Pueblo was a ranger at the park in the early 1970s and went on to a career with the Army Corps of Engineers at Cochiti Lake. He and his son Tim drummed and sang as participants arrived, and were joined by Gary Roybal of San Ildefonso Pueblo. Roybal also was a ranger at Bandelier in the 1970s, left to jobs elsewhere, and returned to work at the park for many years before retiring.
Mary Burchill, author of the biography Lady of the Canyon, (and former Bandelier fee collector) shared stories of the “Lady”, Evelyn Cecil Frey. Innkeeper extraordinaire, Frey lived in the canyon for 63 years from 1925 until the day she passed away in 1988. When she asked how many in the group had personally known Frey, she expressed surprise to see some 25 people raise their hands. Everyone attending received a special replica of the “turkey” plates that Frey always ordered specially for use in her restaurant dining room.
Superintendent Jason Lott spoke about Bandelier’s past, present and future, emphasizing the goals of preserving the unique area and strengthening ties with the related Pueblo communities while seeking opportunities to expand visitor experiences and meet expectations of future generations. As he said afterward, “It was a beautiful evening in the canyon, among people who love the park – just what would be expected of a Centennial Reunion at Bandelier.”