Chama fireworks

The event was still listed on the New Mexico Tourism Department’s website Tuesday evening.

Following several conversations with a senior official in the Governor’s Office, the mayor of Chama on Wednesday canceled an annual fireworks event that typically draws thousands.

The New Mexican reported Wednesday the village of Chama, near the Colorado border, had planned to hold a Fourth of July fireworks event that in the past drew crowds of 8,000 people from across the state and country.

But following pointed conversations with Victor Reyes, legislative director for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Chama Mayor Bill Elbrock canceled the event.

“It was a tough decision for me to make in light of how much the community enjoys it and the businesses that profit from it, from the people being in town,” said Elbrock, a Democrat, during a phone call Wednesday. “I felt that this was probably the best thing to do in light of the current situation with COVID.”

Santa Fe also canceled its annual fireworks show on its own. Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, meanwhile, are still planning to go ahead with fireworks displays.

Elbrock said he asked the Governor’s Office why Albuquerque should be able to hold the city’s fireworks show July Fourth but not Chama. He said he thought if Albuquerque could do it safely, so could the small village.

“But they didn’t seem to think it was so … so I went ahead and put out that order canceling the fireworks,” Elbrock said.

An order Elbrock signed Wednesday said he canceled the show out of “great concern” over the pandemic “and the inability to effectively enforce COVID-19 safe practices as issued by the state of New Mexico.”

A day earlier, Elbrock said he was considering whether to go forward with the show after conversations with Reyes. The mayor initially denied having spoken with the Governor’s Office about the issue.

The mayor on Tuesday expressed skepticism the event would lead to significantly more COVID-19 cases, as diagnoses are already on the rise in Rio Arriba County. Elbrock said tourists are still coming to Chama every day.

The event had been listed on the New Mexico Tourism Department’s website until Tuesday evening, but it appeared to have been removed as of Wednesday.

Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office, said Tuesday the show would be “an unacceptable health risk” and potentially “a flagrant violation of the public health order.”

Sackett said in an email Wednesday, “I am very glad to hear that the Mayor now understands that the event would have put the health and safety of his community at risk.”

She declined to say whether any additional conversations with Reyes or other senior staff in the Governor’s Office persuaded Elbrock to change his mind.

Despite describing Lujan Grisham as a “friend,” Elbrock seems to have a history of challenging the Governor’s Office over COVID-19 orders.

While Elbrock did not flagrantly disobey public health orders, as Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks did when the fellow small-town mayor ordered city employees to go back to work despite the ongoing pandemic, Elbrock signed a letter with 18 other mayors from across the state, including Hicks, challenging imposed business restrictions.

Hicks’ defiance spurred a New Mexico Supreme Court order mandating he comply with ongoing state public health orders and a hefty $60,000 fine for a pawn and gun shop that also rebelled against the public health orders by reopening.

“We must open up our state for business, as carefully as necessary but as quickly as possible,” the mayors’ letter said. “Lives depend on it.”

(9) comments

Donald Christy

Once again it amazes me how some of you use fictitious names to troll the New Mexican. Just so some of you know there are several ex-police officers who are afraid to use their real names. If you have any integrity (which apparently you don’t) you would stop being a child and use your real names. Next time I just might decide to let the rest of the public who you really are. Save face now and stop or use your real names. I’m not questioning whatever you post that’s your prerogative but just grow up



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David Ford

So funny Bob. A couple of days ago you were whining about putting food on the table, everyone's health be damned. And now you are praising a mythological deity for casinos opening up. Interesting and sad but I fail to see the connection unless gambling is your go-to solution. Thanks again for making me laugh this morning....

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Jim Klukkert

BOB SCHWARTZ- No proof, just trying to divide folks. Bad call Bob!

Richard Reinders

If decisions were made based on science people would listen but again the Gov. is throwing darts. Abq and Rio Rancho can do fireworks but others can't, protesters can gather in large groups without mask but the public can't. Another reason people don't listen to Gov. regarding Covid-19 it is hard to decipher politics from science.

Jim Klukkert

Richard Reinders- The local medical authorities closest to Chama have provided the leadership regarding the local fireworks display. After alerting the Governor, she in fact been in agreement with them, and supported their efforts to close down this Public Health Threat. The Governor did NOT throw darts, she spoke in accord with local medical authorities, the best advocates for a rural population already suffering from the lack of medical facilities there.

Quoting from Wednesday’s SFNM article: “La Clinica del Pueblo de Rio Arriba, a small rural health clinic which serves Chama and roughly 2,500 other people in the area, had urged Elbrock to” cancel the fireworks display. “Lauren Reichelt, who heads the Rio Arriba County Health and Human Services Department, also said she was dismayed when she learned of the mayor’s plans to go forward with the celebration.”

I am not sure that people in Arizona, Texas or Florida, as well as a number of other states, did a great job listening to their Governors. Seems folks were at least in part swept up in ‘Post Lockdown Mania’ stupidity. Any number of comments in the national mania have referenced an all or nothing attitude amongst our fellow.

I do think the type of comments made by you and other political opponents of the Governor disparaging her efforts also contribute to the defiance of science based Public Health Orders to wear masks and socially distance oneself. It is you and your crew, all the way up to our data denying, feckless President, who mix politics with science, or science denials.

I support shutting down fireworks displays in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. Let’s all hope that happens!

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David Ford

Gee Bobbie, it seems that you have a problem with my military service. I was one of the last of the draftees and decided to serve regardless of the politics at the time. My father served for 30 yrs in the Marine Corps and I did 2 in the Army. Primarily because, as we are always told, to protect freedoms here at home for people like you who have no conscience when it comes to the sacrifices of others, and take every opportunity to besmirch others while cowering behind your computer. Seems cowardly at the least and sad for you as a human being. Also since you are yelling with CAPS I will report your posts as there is a certain decorum as outlined below in the rules of engagement here online. No need to respond to me anymore as I will not read anymore of your posts since they offer nothing substantial, essential, or even mildly interesting to the conversations, in fact they are a bore. Good luck.

Mike Johnson

Yes, just more hypocrisy and double standards from the Guv, praise and encouragement from her for them to violate her health order for massive protests that last days and weeks, and send cases spiking, but threats and bullying for anyone else trying to make a living and peacefully assemble. This shows why we are NOT all in this together.

Jim Klukkert

Michael Johnson, Ph.D.- Please attribute your repeated and false allegations that the Racial Justice Campaign has sent virus 'cases spiking.' That's not what I am reading.

From “Research Determines Protests Did Not Cause Spike In Coronavirus:

Researchers found 'no evidence that urban protests reignited Covid-19 case growth during the more than three weeks following protest onset.’

In fact, they determined that, based on cellphone data, ‘cities which had protests saw an increase in social distancing behavior for the overall population relative to cities that did not,’ leading to ‘modest evidence of a small longer-run case growth decline.’”


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