Ditch The Crowds, Not The Fun, All-Day 4th Of July Extravaganza On New Mexico Tech Campus

New Mexico singing legend Tobias Rene. Courtesy photo


SOCORRO – “Sure do love waiting in line and searching for parking,” said no one ever. Ditch the crowds, cost and congestion of big-city events and head for the New Mexico Tech campus in Socorro, an oasis in the desert and the host site for the 26th annual 4th of July Celebration.

Entertainment begins at 11 a.m. and closes at dark with a spectacular fireworks display. This year’s headliner is New Mexico singing legend Tobias Rene and his stellar band. The annual fete, co-hosted by the City of Socorro and New Mexico Tech, dates back generations, with locals flocking to the campus Athletic Field to ooh and aah over the pyrotechnics display put on by Tech’s explosives research division.

Back in the day, what is now the NMT Swim Center, the only cement pond in town, hosted a dive-for-pennies event for kids, but over time the Independence Day holiday seemed to lag. Enter a pair of fresh eyes: In 1992, Ronna Kalish, Performing Arts Series (PAS) Director at New Mexico Tech, expanded the event to include all-day entertainment, refreshments, kids’ games and other attractions to entice locals to stay home for the 4th of July.

Today, the annual holiday extravaganza attracts families near and far. With free parking, free sunshine (bring your own shade and sunscreen) and free entertainment on a day when freedom reigns. Non-profit vendors will offer cold beverages, food items and trinkets for sale, while Chartwells food service will dish up barbecue and all the fixings. Super water slides, circus acts, music, dancing and fireworks make for a day, and night, to remember.

“Year after year, the city and college come together to treat everyone to a fantastic holiday experience,” said Kalish, who continues to coordinate the event under the umbrella of the PAS. “Fortunately, the PAS staff and a dedicated group of civic-minded volunteers provide the support an event of this size needs.”

Rene and his band are among a host of popular New Mexico musicians to be featured on this day of days. Here’s a quick peek at the schedule and performers.

  • 11 a.m., the Socorro Community Band playing Sousa marches and other traditional holiday fare, led by Eileen Comstock;
  • Noon, Rising Stars Dancers performing several of their competition numbers;
  • 1 p.m., WISE FOOL NM’S “Backstage at the Circus,” featuring tightrope walking, clowning, acrobatics, puppets, trapeze and a bit of magic;
  • 2:00 p.m., The Cowboy Way, a Western music trio featuring Jim Jones, Doug Figgs and Mariam Funke, the Western Music Association’s 2017 Group of the Year;
  • 3:30 p.m., Ernestine Romero, a recording artist and song writer from Santa Fe, who began her professional career at age eight, and has won awards for her CD releases;
  • 5:00 p.m., Et Alia Dance Troupe performing traditional belly dancing;
  • 5:30 p.m., Suavecito, a six-piece variety band from Socorro, performs New Mexico Spanish, country, oldies, funk, R&B, Top 40 and rock; and
  •  7:45 p.m., Tobias Rene, who has enjoyed an award-winning career as a singer of traditional Spanish music, joined on stage by his talented band.

As the music and dancing wind down, the experts at New Mexico Tech’s Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC) will set off several preliminary booms before the anticipated nighttime magic explodes overhead.

“For the safety and enjoyment of all, please do not bring any personal fireworks to campus,” Kalish said.