Portales Smokin’ Third bash kicks off Independence Day festivities

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

Every holiday seems to be a time for family to get together.

The Fourth of July, however, is often a wider community celebration. And that’s a major reason Clovis and Portales citizens are soaking up as much of the Independence Day festivities available.

The holiday was kicked off by the “Smokin’ Third of July Bash” in Portales on Friday.

Tonight, “Smoke On The Water” will be held in Clovis as residents get a chance to mingle, eat, play and, naturally, watch fireworks.

“It’s a good family get together, but it’s also something where the whole community can get together,” said Mary Wade, 49, of Portales as she and her husband Willis stationed themselves on a blanket preparing for the show Friday night.

Wade said she knew for a fact Portales fireworks had been going on for more than 30 years — and she had a good reference point to prove it.

“I used to live over there and we’d watch it back when I was dating him,” said Wade, pointing south from her vantage point on the slopes surrounding Greyhound Arena.

“That used to be his cheap date,” she added. “But it worked, I guess.”

Vontria Roberts, 31, and her daughter Dwanesha Griggs, 7, of Clovis planned on attending fireworks in both cities.

Roberts said she usually watched the Clovis display from her house But this year she’d take her family to Greene Acres Lake.

Tonight’s display, preceded by a variety of events, is scheduled for 8:45 p.m.

“We’re gonna go out there, watch the boats, watch the kids and have fun,” Roberts said. “My children really wanted to go and they were getting bored sitting at home. They said, ‘Mom, it’s time to get out and do different things,’”

Kim Earwood, sitting even higher on the Greyhound Arena slopes than Wade, thought the elevation gave her a better vantage point to watch the Portales display.

Also intent on watching the Clovis fireworks, Earwood didn’t exactly have the same standard of strategic viewing. She was planning on taking in the Fourth of July display from a house near 21st Street, east of Prince.

“We watch them from my son’s dad’s house. He lives right there,” said Earwood, who liked the atmosphere in Portales better but thought Clovis fireworks were superior between the two.

“It’s really crowded, but (Clovis) has more money to put into it,” she said.

The fireworks in Portales were certainly a social event for Leon Tiffin, 70.

The Portales resident sat on a lawn chair facing the opposite direction from where the display was set to light up the sky.

That’s because he wasn’t planning on staying for the show. Tiffin, who wanted to watch the fireworks from his home, had come to see old friends and acquaintances.

“I usually come by and walk through here. We can watch the fireworks better from home than here,” Tiffin said. “We just wanted to get out of the house, come over and see who’s here.

“I wanted to see the people I know,” he added. “Of course, I’ve lived here all my live and there’s a lot of them I don’t know.”

Smoke on the Water in Clovis

2 p.m. — Vendors open

2 p.m. — Sharon Dickson

3 p.m. — Andy Mason and Don Thomas

3 p.m. — Boat races begin

4 p.m. — Keeson Bell

5 p.m. — Thousand Year Reign

6 p.m. — Forlorn Hope Band

7 p.m. — Mark Kelley

8 p.m. — Charla Corn

8:45 p.m. — Fireworks display

• Fireworks rain date: 9 p.m. Sunday at Greene Acres Lake