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New Mexico State University

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Merry 1999 in New Mexico: Celebrate on Beach, Golf Course, Cattle Drive or Jam Session

LAS CRUCES -- New Mexicans looking for unconventional ways to celebrate can spend Christmas gazing at luminarias on the beach or chasing glow-in-the-dark golf balls at an all-night tournament. They can ride the Chisum Trail in the "last great cattle drive of the millennium" or jam with musicians around the world as they drum in the New Year.


Communities around the state are going all-out this year with special events, said Mike Cook, coordinator of the Rural Economic Development Through Tourism (REDTT) project at New Mexico State University.

The city of Elephant Butte, N.M., incorporated in 1998, is offering several unorthodox holiday events. Participants in the Night Life Golf Tournament, hosted Dec. 17 by Oasis Golf Course, will chase glow-in-the-dark balls over luminaria-lit fairways and around festive, lighted trees. The format is a three-person scramble. Golfers play nine holes, all par three, and use three golf clubs.

"Their motto - I love this - is `We try to get done before sunlight,'" Cook said. Registration is $10 and participation is limited. For details, call (505) 744-5224.

On Dec. 18, Elephant Butte has a Beachwalk Luminarias display along the lakeside as part of a community-wide Weekend of Lights.

"Of course we're used to luminarias and sand in New Mexico as a Southwestern holiday tradition, but this adds an actual beach," Cook said. "It's a real opportunity to spend Christmas on the beach, which we don't get to do too much of in New Mexico."

For more information, call the local chamber of commerce at (877) 744-4900.

Cowboys who relish a challenge can saddle up their horses for what's being billed as the last great cattle drive of the millennium, Dec. 15-20.

"What they will do is drive a herd of about 500 head down the old Chisum Trail, which John Chisum blazed in 1870," Cook said. "It's about a 65-mile route from Roswell to Lincoln."

City slickers can join in the celebration at a kickoff bash Dec. 14 in Roswell, complete with a barbecue dinner and dance. Or, they can wait for the "End of the Trail Fandango" Dec. 21 at the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso Downs." For more information, call (505) 378-4142 or (800) 263-5929.

For New Year's Eve, New Mexicans can take part in the Taos 2000 World Drumming Event Dec. 31-Jan. 1 at Taos High School.

The celebration begins at 9 p.m. New Year's Eve with live entertainment. Afterward, drumming will continue until 1 a.m. on New Year's Day.

"The people in Taos will be joining drummers all over the United States and all over the world, welcoming the New Year," Cook said. "This event is part of the international decade of the world's indigenous people from 1994 to 2004."

To find out more about the event, call (505) 758-3873. For more information about these and other holiday events in New Mexico, contact Mike Cook at NMSU's REDTT office, (505) 646- 8009.