How I spent my holiday

Locals share July 4 activities


July 5, 2018

Jamie Cushman

Joe Sena casts a fishing line at Dennis Chavez Park.

Eastern New Mexico joined millions of Americans around the country in celebrating Independence Day on Wednesday. Here's how several people spent their holiday in Clovis and Portales:

Joe Sena spent the day casting some fishing lines at Dennis Chavez Park, trying to relax and get a break from the 14-hour days and six-days-a-week grind of working at a cattle feed distributor.

"Just trying to catch fish, that's about it," said Sena, a few moments before hooking his second catch of the day.

Sena said he comes to Dennis Chavez every now and then, but he does most of his fishing up north in Cimarron, though he has not been able to go back since the Ute Park fire last month.

"So this is the closest place to fish for now," Sena said.

Sena said when he was done fishing for the day he just planned on spending time with his family and relaxing some more before going back to work today.

"4 o'clock in the morning gets here pretty early," Sena said.

• • •

Down the road in Portales, Dr. Javier Sosa did not have the luxury of a day off for the holiday as he was at work in the emergency room at Roosevelt General Hospital.

Sosa said he is no stranger to working on Independence Day.

"Many times, it's not the first time. It just probably feels like a Sunday," Sosa said, due to the smaller staff.

He said RGH's employees still get to celebrate the holiday though, as usually the nurses will bring in some special food and at night they can still watch the fireworks show.

"Normally what happens is the fireworks, you can see it from the parking lot of the hospital. So we go there if we have time and it's not that busy. We can go in front of the hospital and see the fireworks," Sosa said.

• • •

Richard Lewallen was also hard at work on Wednesday, but he would not have a chance to see any fireworks shows because he was too busy selling them at his stand on the west side of Clovis.

"Just work, work, work," Lewallen said.

Lewallen estimated that customers would still be coming in until about 1 a.m.

A truck driver, Lewallen said he has been selling fireworks for years as a way to make some extra cash.

"It was kind of slow at first but it's picked up," Lewallen said of this year's fireworks season.

Lewallen said the largest sale he had this year — as of mid-day Wednesday at least — was a customer who spent $700, good for 50-something fireworks.

• • •

Back in Portales, firefighter Scott Candelaria was getting ready to work during the city's annual fireworks show at night, but first he was getting some chores done and mowing the lawn at his South Avenue B home.

"I'm cleaning things up until 5 o'clock and then I'll be going over to the fire department to work tonight," Candelaria said.

Candelaria said several times over the years he has had to work for the fire department on the holiday, though he doesn't mind.

"It's another work day," Candelaria said.

Work won't get in the way of seeing some of Portales' fireworks show for Candelaria either, as he said he will be posted up at the hospital in case any calls come in.

• • •

A couple of blocks down the road at the corner of South Avenue B and West First Street, Codi Flores spent her holiday hosting a fundraiser to support her attendance at the Native American Basketball Invitational in Phoenix, Arizona, next week.

Flores, who will be a senior at Portales High School in the fall, said she chose frybread for her fundraiser as a way to share her family's Navajo culture.

"It's a family thing. We make frybread as part of our meals usually and we just thought it would be nice to offer our community what we have with our culture," Flores said.

Flores said she was looking forward to competing in the tournament, which will also include hundreds of other Native American basketball players from the U.S. and Canada.

• • •

Despite the near-triple-digit temperatures on Wednesday the Portales swimming pool was sparsely populated, other than the Sanchinel family.

"I was surprised it was empty. I actually thought it might be closed today but it's cool, all the pool for us," Claudia Sanchinel said.

Claudia brought her children Eliel, 7, Yeray, 9, and Alellaly, 12, to the pool. The kids said they were enjoying the chance to escape the heat and looking forward to the fireworks show at night.

• • •

Several Clovis residents were also having fun in a pool on Wednesday, but it was a lot smaller than its Portales counterpart.

Tanner Faith, Ivan Martinez, 8, Kenny Smith, 10, and Chaser Bailey, 13, were relaxing in a hot tub-turned-swimming pool in the parking lot across the street from Greene Acres Park where a fireworks show was scheduled after dark.

Faith said he bought the hot tub recently and it was already on his trailer, so it was pretty easy to haul it over to the parking lot.

The kids said they were eagerly anticipating the Clovis fireworks show, but for different reasons. Chaser said he likes the noise, Kenny said he likes the colors and was especially hoping for an American flag-shaped firework, while Ivan said he just wanted to know how many there would be.


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