Costilla-Amalia reunion a big success

By Pauline Rivera
Posted 8/1/19

You've heard the phrase, "You can't go home again"? Well, I'm here to tell you that you can.

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Costilla-Amalia reunion a big success


You've heard the phrase, "You can't go home again"? Well, I'm here to tell you that you can.

In July, La Voz sponsored - and I, as publisher, along with a 17-committee group - organized a community reunion of an estimated 2,000-plus people that included the communities of Costilla and Amalia, New Mexico, and Garcia and Jaroso, Colorado.

Costilla is my hometown, and although some could label it a ghost town today, for those who were born and raised there it is a place where the heart lives. A place where your parents, your elementary school friends, apple and plum trees, huge vegetable gardens, blue skies with afternoon rains, piñon and hornos, country roads and New Mexico music still live if only in a corner of your heart and soul.

We pulled it off, all with minimal of resources, generous donations and the strong will to deliver.

Just about two years ago, I joined the Families of Costilla-Amalia Facebook, a closed group to gain better knowledge of my New Mexico family line and ancestors. The site provided old photos and posts from people trying to connect with their New Mexico/Colorado relatives.

A reunion idea popped into my head and never left until its completion on July 7, with the closing highlighted by a Catholic Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Costilla served by His Excellency Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Los Lunas. There, his message of family, love and forgiveness touched the parishioners who filled the church.

With an awesome parade that included many floats on July 6, family banners, classic cars and more, the ceremony's festivities soon followed. Attendees came from as far as New Zealand, California, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado and more. They longed for the days of Costilla High School and Costilla and Amalia Elementary school days. They ordered T-shirts with their family names and ordered banners to walk in the parade in honor of their family name or parents who had passed on.

They longed for the foods familiar to their palate, like tamales, Frito pies, apple empanadas, chicarrone and bean burritos, capulin jelly, sopaipillas and little green apples. They absorbed the history of Costilla and surrounding communities given by Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez. They relived and participated in cultural traditions like La Marcha (Wedding March) and were reminded of the century-old first Hispanic organization known as the SPMDTU (Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos). They learned of Los Penitentes (a Catholic group of men who practice religious rituals during the church's holy days like Lent). They heard verses sung by Henrietta Arellano known as La Entrega (wedding day ritual). They listened to familiar folklore verses from Natividad (Tiva) DeHerrera, who received a standing ovation.

"What a day! Enjoyed it more than words can describe. Hard to believe only 10 years of my life were spent there but the memories, thoughts and feelings this reunion evoked will be forever hard to match. Truly a once in a lifetime event," said Al Cordova, who attended from Colorado Springs.

New Mexico music was provided by New Mexico's own star, Roberto Griego and Northern New Mexico's Johnny Rodriguez and Famalia. Gustavo Vallejos and Johnny Rodgriguez were both honored and presented with a music award. Later in the day, they were entertained at the Third Annual Chris Arellano Music Festival on the Torres property.

Inside the plaza was a first-class photo exhibit with a military, education, community, chamacos, couples and wedding photos themes representing different families and generations enjoyed by the crowd. Top-rate artwork depicting Costilla, Amalia, Garcia and Jaroso veterans were highlighted as a proud people found their family veterans, professionals including teachers and seniors 80 years old and older.

It will be remembered as a once-in-a-lifetime experience left for the history books, drawing an estimated 2,000 participants. Thanks to the many sponsors like Kit Carson Electric, Smith's, Taos Mountain Energy Bars, La Voz, Chris Arellano Music Festival, Dennis Santistevan Farmers Insurance, Val Vigil's Tax Service and a special thank you to the many, many generous donors.

"Such an awesome event," said Ray J. Martinez of Taos. "Thank you to all the committee members and organizers. I was in attendance and am still in awe of the organization and participation of so many families there and the kindness shown by all. A historical event to say the least. Amor a todos, la raíz de nuestros antepasados continua a florear.

Pauline Rivera is publisher of La Voz in Colorado.


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