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Pandemic, alleged drunk driver do not dampen Ceremonial welcome celebration

Pandemic, alleged drunk driver do not  dampen Ceremonial welcome celebration

GALLUP

The Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial art exhibit preview kicked off the 100th anniversary with an outdoor “Gallup’s night out” wine gala at Red Rock Park last Wednesday.

The outdoor event sold out and was packed to the gills with over 500 revelers who dressed up for the milestone centennial celebration.

“The local community has come out in support of the local association,” said the event’s volunteer coordinator, Dudley Byerley. “They’re coming out in droves.”

Cheerful party-goers socialized, greeted friends and family and took turns perusing the Ceremonial fine art show in the exhibit hall.

“We’re traditional and the tradition carries on,” said Byerley “It’s a big deal.”

After the prior week’s incident at the Ceremonial night parade, where an alleged intoxicated driver drove through the parade route injuring 15 people, approximately 30 New Mexico State Police officers were deployed to keep watch over the rest of the Ceremonial events.

At the gala, some of the officers could be seen casually strolling around amongst the wine and art lovers.

“They’re around and they’re reassuring the public that they’re safe,” said Ceremonial Board president and rodeo coordinator Kyle Tom.

“What happened was a freak accident,” he said. “We’re going to go on through this 100th and have the best Ceremonial ever.”

The party, which featured a cornucopia of hors d’oeuvres, wine, live music and door prizes, was one of the first large social gatherings in Gallup in after two years of restrictions due to COVID-19.

At one point, the crowd was blessed with drenching monsoon downpour that partygoers gleefully took in stride.

“Being at the gala is my favorite part because that means we’re ready to roll,” said Tom.

“It all pays off tonight,” he said. “We’ve got an amazing community that’s helped us sell out this wine gala for the first time ever. They’re here to have a good time, to see the art.”

A seemingly relieved Gallup Mayor Louie Bonaguidi said he was encouraged to see the large turnout for the event after the terrifying night parade ordeal less than a week prior.

“What we’ve been through in the past week, it bothered me,” said Bonaguidi.

“I thought it might put a damper on the whole event, but tonight basically proves that there’s still an interest in Ceremonial, not only for the community, but we’ve got people coming here from all over the world,” he said. “It warms my heart, for sure.”

Tom said even events over the prior weekend, including rodeo and traditional song and dance, were well-attended.

“All of the elders were having a good time, dressed up, dancing,” said Tom. “And they were pulling their kids and their grandkids out on the dance floor.”

Tom said that the mix of youth and elders and everyone in-between intermingling and having fun is a hallmark of Ceremonial.

“It really speaks to who we are and what we’re all about and that’s presenting traditional authentic culture and heritage for the world,” he said.

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About The Author

Rima Krisst

Reporter and photojournalist Rima Krisst reported for the Navajo Times from July 2018 to October 2022. She covered Arts and Culture and Government Affairs beats.Before joining the editorial team at the Times, Krisst worked in various capacities in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and Indian Affairs policy on behalf of the Tribes, Nations and Pueblos of New Mexico. Among her posts, she served as Director of PR and Communications for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department under Governor Bill Richardson, Healthcare Outreach and Education Manager for the Eight Northern Pueblos, Tribal Tourism Liaison for the City of Santa Fe, and Marketing Projects Coordinator for Santa Fe Indian Market. As a writer and photographer, she has also worked independently as a contractor on many special projects, and her work has been published in magazines. Krisst earned her B.S. in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Connecticut.

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