Maypole tradition marks 77th year

Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer

Imagine being able to step into a fairytale and feel like a princess with the beautiful dress, the perfect hair and having all eyes on you. For Portales High School senior, Kacee Lovato, and everyone who participated in Thursday’s Maypole at PHS, that fairy tale seemed to come true.

“It’s so exciting, I always wanted to wind because it looked like fun to learn how to dance so proper and elegant,” Lovato said.

Lovato’s family has a long-running history with PHS’s Maypole tradition. Her grandmother, Lela Elizabeth Smith Martin, participated in her high school Maypole 50 years ago and Kacee’s mother, Angela Lovato, participated in hers as well. Angela said she was so proud to see her daughter participate. Her eyes were filled with tears of joy as she talked about Lovato and what it feels like to see her dance and wind the Maypole.

“It’s just so special, they’re like little princesses,” she said, “It’s the closest thing to them getting married, an end of an era.”

Since the tradition of winding the Maypole has been taking place at PHS since 1929, many girls and boys know at a young age whether or not they will participate in the ceremony.

PHS Senior, Veronica Corralez, said one of the main reasons she decided to do it was because it was a Portales tradition.

“I’ve known since the sixth-grade that I would do this because usually everyone picks their partners early,” said Corralez.

The two Maypoles in the gym were decorated with long flowing light pink and baby blue ribbons that fell to the floor from the tops of the two poles. Seas of colorful dresses in light pinks, blues, purples, yellows and oranges filled the room as each couple entered the gym to take their seats. Some of the dresses were adorned with jewels and rhinestones and sparkled underneath the gymnasium lights making sure that each girl was looking as special and unique as possible.

The gentlemen all looked equally as handsome in their black tuxes as they escorted their partners to their seats. The attendants Austina Hall, Stephanie Hatch, and Emily Lujan made their way to the decorated stage looking very elegant and pristine. Queen Andrea Ortiz was stunning in her gorgeous jeweled white gown and once on stage, she accepted her crown gracefully, everyone applauding as it was given to her.

Not only was this a big night for the girls who were in the ceremony but some of the guys seemed to be looking forward to this special night as well.

“I’m glad that it’s tonight and that it will be done and over with because it’s the last thing I have to do and then I graduate,” said PHS senior Zachariah Olguin. Olguin said that the Maypole was something fun for him to do his senior year and he was looking forward to getting through it and doing well.

“It feels good and I’m pretty excited, I just hope to do a good job,” said PHS senior Mario Aguirre.

Aguirre and the rest of the group didn’t have any reason to worry. Once the dancing started, each couple arose and began to move in tune with the music with great ease and care, making it seem as if it was an effortless task. Because the dresses each had a hoop at the bottom of the skirts, each time the girls moved it seemed as if they were floating on air.

Once it was time for the girls to wind the pole, each one seemingly perfect, taking extra care to get each step right. As the pole became entwined with a mix of light pink and blue colors, the crowd seemed to be getting ready for the release of the ribbons, signaling the end of the winding. When the music finally did stop and the girls released the ribbons the audience let their appreciation be known, with an outburst of clapping and whistling. Corralez said that was the moment she had been looking forward to all night.

For some of the participants there was an added bonus to participating in the Maypole ceremony.

“It was nice to get to know some other people that I didn’t know during my high school years,” said senior Makila Sena.

Aguirre agreed. “I enjoyed getting to know people that I usually didn’t talk to or didn’t know that well,” said Aguirre.

Ending the ceremony, Lovato sang “Life’s a struggle,” which was written by former winder and PHS student Antoinette Urioste.