Passage of dresses becoming tradition for annual Maypole

By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Correspondent

Portales High School 2009 Valedictorian Amanda Wood did not have to look far to find the perfect gown to wear for Maypole this year. The mint green dress was worn last year by another student.

According to Maypole coordinator Marilyn Stratton, this is one of at least 22 dresses that will make encore appearances at Thursday’s 81st annual PHS Maypole, an elaborate tradition that has surpassed any other of its kind.

The handing down of Maypole gowns has also become a tradition that not only saves Maypole winders a few hundred bucks, but also in a sense bonds current Maypole winders with previous ones as they share in this age-old, fairy tale-like tradition.

“I saw Amanda Kiker wear this dress last year, and I thought it was so beautiful. I thought she had bought it, but she said she got it through the school,” Wood said as she described the sequin-studded gown that immediately caught her eyes. “We just had to make the skirt shorter because it was too long. We gathered it up in random places so the bottom now has a gathered look.”

Wood said both of her parents, Shannon Gormley and Chris Wood, wound Maypole in the late 1980s and added that she also has three aunts and many cousins who are Maypole veterans.

Stratton said this will be the third Maypole for Wood’s dress.

She said the dress was originally worn by a Maypole queen court attendant three years before Kiker. In its original form, Stratton said, the dress was white, and then it was dyed lavender.

“It did not hold the color and ended up a gray,” Stratton said.

“Mrs. (Lou) Sikes then took the dress and remodeled it into the dress that Amanda is wearing today.”

Stratton said several past Maypole winders gave the school dresses this year and added that PHS teacher Martha Cane also donated some dresses that had been given to her. She also noted that six or seven other girls this year have borrowed dresses from previous Maypole winders.

Letisha Gossett, among the 28 couples winding this year, is one of many, though, who did purchase a new gown for this special occasion. She bought her bright blue, strapless gown in Lubbock.

“Maypole reminds me of all of those family ballrooms they show on cartoons. This is a great tradition, and it is so beautiful to be a part of it. I don’t think they should ever stop Maypole,” Gossett said.

She noted that her mom, Stacy Gossett, wound Maypole in 1982 and her sister, Tanya, wound last year.

Gossett said learning this traditional waltz has been challenging and added that an even bigger challenge has been making the rehearsals during this busy time of year. However, she said, “I got the hang of it. Maybe someday, I will learn more ballroom dances.”

PHS senior Raul Santiba