Maypole tradition continues

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

The tradition of the annual Maypole dance continues this week for Portales High School seniors.

For some students it is a family tradition to be a winder, a queen or one of the queen’s attendants.

Maypole coordinator Marilyn Stratton said this year they have 72 graduates who are winding including: A queen, four attendants, a senior playing piano and an announcer for a total of 79 students out of a approximately 165 graduates. Stratton said there are certain requirements students have to meet before they can participate in the Maypole.

“They have to have a 2.0 or above just like sports. We practice two nights a week and they have to be there so they can’t work on those nights or anything like that,” Stratton said. “The girls buy a pastel ball gown, hoops, slippers, gloves and the guys rent tuxedos for two nights. They have to be willing to be there and put in the time.”

Stratton said she and another teacher volunteered to take over the Maypole six years ago. This is the last year Stratton will be coordinating the Maypole. She agreed to stay on until her daughter graduated.

Stratton is training two teachers to carry on the Maypole tradition.

Stepsisters Leven Bergsieker, 18, and Cayla Bergsieker, 17, are carrying on the family tradition of being winder. An uncle and an older sister participated in the Maypole in th past..

Cayla said she and Royce Main are doing a duet with the song “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson.

“We’re the last ones in our family to do this,” Leven said. “We wanted to do this and carry on the Maypole tradition. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m nervous. I think we have it down though.”

Probate Judge Barbara George was the director of the Maypole for 25 years. George said Stratton has done a tremendous job with the Maypole and the students.

“The Maypole started in 1929, they didn’t have money for senior class trips to my understanding,” George said. “I’m old, but I don’t go back that far. It started as a class night where the whole class could show off for their parents. When it first started the entire class participated and it was called Maypole and class night.”

George said there are strong feelings about the Maypole in the community because it is a tradition and sometimes it can be controversial.

“During the war this community felt so strongly about the tradition of the Maypole,” George said. “The girls continued it without male partners because they wanted the tradition to continue. So, they continued to dance at the Maypole even during the war. After the war the boys began to dance again.”