The Feast of San Ildefonso





We have a member of the Iron Butt Association on staff here at Sunrise Springs. This staffer is an active member of the motorcycle association, named for the anatomical requirements needed to ride a motorcycle for prolonged periods. He has successfully completed a number of long-distance challenges and now he is in training for the biggest riding challenge of his riding career. We wish him and his posterior the best of luck.

Community News

Many years ago a development was proposed in La Cienega that included a golf course, condos, town homes, and other things that didn’t fit into our community. At the time we had no formal way to respond. A group of residents began meeting to see what could be done. The divisions in the community ran deep: some wanted to negotiate with the developers to minimize the impact, some were opposed to any negotiations. Eventually the development was scaled back to something acceptable and the developers, recognizing a community concern, agreed to connect the development to the county water system. During this extended process, we as a community realized we needed an official advocacy entity and the La Cienega Valley Association, now over 25 years old, was formed as a result.

The Feast of Saint Ildefonso

This annual celebration begins, snow or shine, each year on the evening of January 22nd with church vespers. These dances, vespers, and Mass blend the native practices with the feast day event. I was lucky enough to attend with my wife earlier this year.

When Ellie and I arrived, a full moon in hung the clear sky above and the haze and smell of wood smoke drifted all around us. We walked into the large, well-kept plaza and were met with the vision of fifty or more bonfires burning in sets of two around the periphery of the Plaza. As we waited, the burning bonfires were attended to by two Pueblo residents who carefully raked and stoked the fires. After a while the sound of drums began in the distance. Next the singers moved across the plaza, summoning the animal dancers from the kiva. As the singers and drummers came closer the large bonfires were lit and the animal dancers made their appearance in the bright flickering light.

The dancers were led by a Pueblo elder and included Pueblo members dressed as buffalo, elk, deer, and antelope. The deer dancers held long sticks in their hands, tapping them on the ground to simulate the deer’s front legs. The youngest of the dancers were the antelope dancers. All the dancers were immersed in the enduring ritual, witnessed by a crowd that included visitors and members of the Pueblo.

This ritual, followed by a continuation of the celebration at the daybreak the following day, are an experience we will never forget. Part II of the Feast of San Ildefonso is coming in the next edition of “Notes from the Road.”

Guest Comments from the Road

Sunrise Springs was fabulous.

I wish I had planned a longer stay, there is so much to do.

There was such an abundance of nature.

Carl Dickens

Carl Dickens, Human Resources Coordinator
Carl Dickens grew up in New Mexico, his parents having met and fallen in love here. After a brief stint in Alaska, the family returned to the warmth and light of the high desert. Carl was raised in the farming community of Los Ranchos, in the North Valley of Albuquerque, among alfalfa fields and arroyos. He began working at Sunrise Springs in 1984, the same year he and his young family moved to the valley. Carl remained at Sunrise Springs for five years, returning again in September of 2012. Carl is active in the local community and is passionate about the history of the area, preserving its agricultural traditions and water conservation.