Between aspen trees and camping stoves, visitors to Santa Fe National Forest spent July Fourth free from signs of the pandemic ravaging the now 244-year-old country, spare a few face masks.

As Texas and Arizona license plates crowded parking lots and roadsides, hundreds of hikers and picnickers spent the holiday in high-altitude bliss.

“We’re managing,” said David Eberstein, who added he is visiting from out of state while preparing to mountain bike the Aspen Vista trail with his 11-year-old son. “There’s not that many cases here it feels like.”

The New Mexico Department of Health reported 291 new cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday, including six in Santa Fe County, as well as two additional deaths to bring the statewide casualty count to 513.

Apart from missing an organized fireworks display at night, those in campgrounds and trailheads said there wasn’t much difference between this holiday and years past in terms of activity. But a handful were quick to deny they were out to express any form of patriotism during the current state of civil unrest in the name of racial and economic justice.

“I do not celebrate the holiday. I never have,” Robert Reed, a 35-year-old African American who drove from Phoenix to spend a few nights at the Big Tesuque Campground, said from behind a face mask. “A lot has to be addressed until there is equality in this country. Maybe one day we could finally celebrate this country for being what it should be, but not right now.”

The sentiment was shared across the campground.



“We’re definitely not free. We’re all enslaved to corporations and money. People are having their lives threatened by police. People are living in cages on the border,” 35-year-old Santa Fean Robert Blüm said. “I definitely want to do the opposite of celebrating our freedom.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday that ignoring face mask requirements in public places could result in $100 fines. She also ordered a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors. Down the mountain, most people on the Plaza had face masks, but either rendered them useless by sliding them below their nose or found food and drink as an excuse to go bare-faced.

While there was steady foot traffic downtown, business owners said Saturday’s crowd paled in comparison to the profits of typical midsummer weekends.

“It’s usually shoulder to shoulder over the Fourth of July holiday,” said Andrea Caldera from behind the grill at El Molero Fajitas, which she said has been on the Plaza for 30 years. “Tourism is down what, 70 percent? We’re worried the summer is ruined for us. There’s just not much happening.”

As Caldera packed up her stand after selling around 15 orders of fajitas in five hours, Leon Arguello tuned his guitar a few dozen yards away on a Plaza bench. The busker said he arrived Friday in Santa Fe after a three-day drive from Ithaca, N.Y., that was rather uneventful apart from somebody in Oklahoma City trying to run him off the road, most likely for the threat signified by his license plates.

“I love to play the blues, but I think I’ll stick more to country songs today,” Arguello said. “Some feel-good stuff.”

(23) comments

Elizabeth Pettus

The interest/speculation about license plates it a tad silly. Many many people from other states who own homes here have been here since May and June, escaping the heat and enjoying our natural beauty. I spoke to a couple who are from Texas, but have been in Taos for three weeks, and they are staying for the foreseeable future. Let’s not let xenophobia take over and turn Santa Fe into a Salem Witch-hunt.

Michael Duncan

"The busker said he arrived Friday in Santa Fe after a three-day drive from Ithaca, N.Y., that was rather uneventful apart from somebody in Oklahoma City trying to run him off the road, most likely for the threat signified by his license plates". Where does this come from? This is pure speculation, not a statement of fact. And what threat? Am I to just assume any near auto accident is because someone saw an out of state tag? The reporter here has to do better than this. Was this edited?

Gregory Ross

Whoever the Santa Fe New Mexican staff member is that is editing/deleting my comments, please identify yourself.

Emily Koyama

Ha, good luck with THAT.

Jane Youngblood

I won’t comment on the others’ opinions posted here. Instead, I’ll tell you about the July 4th I experienced:

My husband and I sat in our front yard last night in the La Cienega hills to watch the annual 4th of July fireworks displays. Normally, Santa Fe July 4th fireworks are dominated by a few huge official displays dwarfing the neighborhood family fireworks. Not so last night. The 2020 Santa Fe July 4th fireworks were the best we’ve seen in a decade! The entire valley as far and wide as we could see was illuminated by sparkling multi-colored coronas and shooting comets of light from the fireworks ignited by multiple family backyard celebrations taking place. The cool night air was filled with sounds of patriotic enthusiasm – booming explosions, whistling comets, screamers and poppers, sizzling sparklers, firecrackers, caps, children cheering, and birdsong! It was the purest display of patriotic spirit we’ve experienced in a long time. Not only were we stirred by the dazzling pyrotechnics. The heavens were alive, too, with lightning, dramatic cloud architecture and a huge golden full moon. My husband and I will never forget the Santa Fe July 4th of 2020.

No comentaré las opiniones de los demás publicadas aquí. En cambio, te contaré sobre el 4 de julio que experimenté:

Mi esposo y yo nos sentamos en nuestro patio delantero anoche en las colinas de La Cienega para ver los fuegos artificiales anuales del 4 de julio. Normalmente, los fuegos artificiales del 4 de julio de Santa Fe están dominados por algunas exhibiciones oficiales enormes que empequeñecen los fuegos artificiales familiares del vecindario. No tan anoche. ¡Los fuegos artificiales del 4 de julio de Santa Fe 2020 fueron los mejores que hemos visto en una década! Todo el valle, tan lejos como podíamos ver, estaba iluminado por brillantes coronas multicolores y disparando cometas de luz de los fuegos artificiales encendidos por múltiples celebraciones familiares en el patio trasero. El aire fresco de la noche estaba lleno de sonidos de entusiasmo patriótico: explosiones en auge, cometas silbantes, chillidos y poppers, chisporroteantes chispas, petardos, gorras, niños animando y canto de pájaros! Fue la muestra más pura del espíritu patriótico que hemos experimentado en mucho tiempo. No solo nos conmovió la deslumbrante pirotecnia. Los cielos también estaban vivos, con relámpagos, una espectacular arquitectura de nubes y una enorme luna llena dorada. Mi esposo y yo siempre recordaremos el 4 de julio de 2020 de Santa Fe.

Ted Nugent

*yawn*

Emily Koyama

Get an early night to bed. Fatigue seems to be an issue.

Jim Klukkert

Yes Emily, we are all so tired of your snarky, not so clever, borderline racist comments.

Is Emily Koyama your real name? Are you employed by a government entity?

Mark Stahl

It would have been better had the explosions ended around 11:00 instead of continuing well into July 5th.

Robert Bartlett

Exactly right. It was epic and beautiful. Let freedom ring.

Brad Doubles

Fantastic upbeat and optimistic outlook Jane. Thank you!

We can always count on the New Mexican to come through with a negative headline to report on all of the folks they find who think America is unjust and simply not great. Well, many of us had a great weekend and know what Independence Day is for....All the complainers, protestors, looters, rioters, agitators and ACTIVISTS, should thank their lucky stars that the live in a free country. If they think things are better elsewhere, they might go and find out. Many would never return as socialist countries do not tolerate their whining very long...

Long live the Republic! Happy Independence Day to all! (And yes, even to those who can't / won't celebrate)

Robert Bartlett

Last night's fireworks across the city were epic. The 4th of July celebration will not be dampened by Marxist, America hating fools. Or by order of the governor.

Mike Johnson

A sad situation on the most significant holiday we as Americans can celebrate. To honor our founding fathers and the brave patriots that gave us America over the centuries. And we are reduced to hiding like scared children in our houses and watching TV, sad.

Kathy Fish

Mayor Webber did us no favors when he blamed New Mexicans for rising COVID rates in state. Basically, he was implicitly telling folks from neighboring, COVID-ridden states that they were welcome to come here, wear masks (or not), and crowd our grocery stores and trailheads. While largely upper/middle class, overwhelmingly white tourists flood in, the rest of us are stuck dealing with it. Go away, out-of-staters. Go away.

Ted Nugent

@ Kathy Fish: Seriously, "white" tourists are the issue? You sound ignorant, Kathy. If only your simplistic solution was the culprit. Maybe SFe should ban all "white" people from entering county line. We are a free country for a reason. Totalitarianism is what you refer to here by demanding our borders be free of folks from surrounding states. If I wanted that, I'd relocate to N. Korea under the Kim dynasty. Heck, male citizens there even have to maintain a state-issued haircut.

Gregory Ross

This is a patently racist post and I request that the New Mexican remove it.

Gregory Ross

Where are you from Kathy Fish? New York is the most COVID-ridden state in the union.

Ted Nugent

“We’re definitely not free. We’re all enslaved to corporations and money. People are having their lives threatened by police. People are living in cages on the border,” 35-year-old Santa Fean Robert Blüm said. “I definitely want to do the opposite of celebrating our freedom.” Oh, give me a break. A bit melodramatic don't you think? "Enslaved" to money and corporations . . . of course.

Kim Swininoga

Some amazingly shallow comments from the camping crowd,

Ted Nugent

'Tourism is down what, 70 percent? We’re worried the summer is ruined for us. There’s just not much happening.”' Who cares? Stop the bellyaching and grow up. Who cares about all those overpriced small businesses on the plaza? So they go a year w/o ample revenue--not my problem. I'm sorry COVID-19 has caused such an inconvenience for you and that your summer is devastated.

Kim Griego-Kiel

Sigh, if Mr. Caldera, the busker arrived on Friday from New York, he is required to quarantine for 14 days. Not sit on the plaza singing and playing guitar. As we know from the case in Washington state, singing spreads the virus faster and farther. Mr. Caldera is putting people at very high risk.

Ted Nugent

That's because Mr. Arguello only cares about himself and his dumb music.

Gregory Ross

Yep. Where are all the little narcs (or news journalists) when you need them???

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.