A Very Madrid Christmas!

Santa & his Yak in the Madrid Christmas Parade!

Madrid is the closest town to my Earthship – I’ve hiked and ridden a horse there several times – and what a town it is! Madrid, pronounced MAD-rid (not ma-DRID) is a mad, mad place, home to wonderfully mad Madroids.

I love how totally cool this baby is about being put on a yak. Baby Madroids have seen everything!

Today, Madrid has a population of around 300 people, mostly artists, but during its coal mining heyday in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s more than 2,500 miners and their families called Madrid home.

In the 1920’s the company-owned town began a tradition of stringing up Christmas lights for the holidays, using the company’s own coal-fed generators to power more than 150,000 lights.

Madrid quickly became a holiday tourist destination, even attracting the likes of Walt Disney, who is said to have gotten his idea for a “Magic Kingdom” while walking down Madrid’s festively lit Main Street.

Madrid General Store

World War II put and end to Madrid’s light show and after the mines closed in the 1950’s the place became a ghost town for more than 20 years. In the 1970’s a cadre of artists, craftsmen and hippies moved back to Madrid and many of them are still there!

Madrid does have something of a reputation, not unearned!

Madrid is now a thriving artist community, home to more than a dozen galleries and shops. Whenever friends and family come to visit, I take them to Madrid to hunt for vintage cowboy boots and native turquoise jewelry and then to the Mineshaft Tavern for live music and a glimpse of the often outrageous local color.

That's not a costume. He's the real deal.

Once again, Madrid’s Christmas tradition is alive and well! Each December the shops lining Main Street compete for the coveted “Best Lights” award. The resulting show is so spectacular, everybody wins! One of these evenings, I’ll take my tripod into Madrid to get some photos of the Christmas lights, but until then, enjoy these shots from this weekend’s Madrid Christmas Parade!

Madroids on Parade!

Spray Peace, Not Pepper!

This is not a parade float. The Peacemobile is a common sight around Madrid all year!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently traveling the backroads from New Mexico to Alaska, writing and living out of a tiny Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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4 Responses to A Very Madrid Christmas!

  1. seekraz says:

    Madrid does look like a very colorful and interesting place…uniquely so. :)

  2. Laura says:

    Great post! I am a fellow New Mexican living in ABQ. I occasionally participate in wood firings in the large UNM kiln just outside of Madrid. I learned some things about Madrid from your post that I didn’t know! If you want to learn a little about the anagama up there, you can look at the series of posts I did. This one will put you around the middle. http://liveclay.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/madrid-wood-fire-days-2-4/
    (I was a newish blogger and have since changed how I do images, but it will give you an idea!). We try to fire a couple times a year, depending on weather conditions. If you’re ever interested in stopping by, let me know! Cheers, Laura

    • Hi Laura! Wow that looks amazing! I know nothing about working with clay but I’m always up for new things! Please let me know the next time you’ll be firing it up. Why does UNM have a kiln in Madrid? Seems kind of random. Thanks for reading! M

  3. Laura says:

    I will definitely let you know. UNM has a kiln up there because one of the Ceramics Dept Chairs has some cooperative land that they donated for the kiln. The bricks were made onsite.

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