Santa Fe marches in Fiesta
BY CATHERINE COGGAN –
During the Santa Fe, New Mex., Fiesta offices close, businesses shut down, even shopping malls lock their doors as all head for Fiesta.
For 400 years the celebration was entirely religious, with locals gathering for a solemn procession from St. Francis Cathedral to the Cross of the Martyrs.
About 75 years ago, a little sparkle was added to it with Old Man Gloom, a 40-foot wood and straw puppet which is burned to cinders to launch the onset of winter. Along with this comes lots of parties and a huge parade of floats and bands with dozens of the city’s service organizations marching along.
This year, the Santa Fe Salvation Army went along for the ride and marched with the best of them, with Corps Officers Majors John and Dee Webb each participating in their own way.
John sailed along on the Santa Fe Concert Band float playing the cornet. Not too far behind, Dee drove their Salvation Army emergency canteen with the corps’ oldest member, 92-year-old Edith Harrington (John’s mother) sitting beside her.
Thirteen kids from the corps’ youth group marched with the canteen: two boys carried the Army banner, three handed out candy to the crowd and eight of the girls swirled and twirled trimbrels.
The parade proved a cheery shot in the arm for the majors. In June, the Santa Fe Salvation Army, usually serving firefighters battling forest fires, found themselves answering a three-alarm fire of their own when the thrift store warehouse was completely destroyed by an arsonist. The corps now faces severe loss of the funds that support their many social service programs. After such an appalling loss it’s easy to understand how worry and even despair can creep in.
But Dee was delighted when dozens of on-lookers along the parade route shouted their support. “We’ll help you rebuild,” some called out. “We’re with you,” others yelled. “It felt good to hear that,” Dee says with a smile. The TV coverage highlighted the youth marching and Dee and Edith even made the television news that night, as a reporter pushed a microphone into the canteen and chatted with them for a minute.