By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Tradition once again returns to Portales as the 78th annual winding of the Maypole is set to take place tonight in the Portales High School Gymnasium.
“This is the only school left in the nation that still does it,” said coordinator and PHS teacher Marilyn Stratton.
The PHS gym has been turned into a fairyland decorated in white lights and colors of pastel blue and lavender, as chosen by the Maypole queen Lourdes Gutierrez. The gym becomes even more beautiful as the 32 couples step onto the floor and take their positions to begin the long-standing tradition of winding the Maypole.
The girls will be dressed in southern belle ballgowns, all in pastel colors. They will also wear the long gloves and corsages. The boys will all be dressed in matching tuxedos, Stratton said.
“The first time I saw it I just thought it was a fairytale event. It’s just beautiful,” Stratton said.
During the months of March, April and May, the students, all seniors, have spent two nights a week practicing for two hours each time.
During the practice sessions, the students learned the box step and the correct way the Maypole is wound. This year has proved a bit of a challenge since many of the students were unable to attend all of the practices at the same time due to other commitments, both school and family, Stratton said.
“It’s a lot of work,” Stratton said.
For Gutierrez and fellow senior Moriah Wortham, the weeks leading up to the event have been full of anticipation and hard work, they said.
“It’s really hard work and it will be worth it, Wortham said.
“I’m nervous. I hope I don’t trip and fall during the dance,” Gutierrez said.
Portales native Wortham is continuing the family tradition, as her two older sisters participated in previous Maypoles, she said.
“It’s a tradition,” Wortham said.
Guiterrez, who is not from the area, is excited to be a part of the long standing tradition. She credits the many long hours of work and practice as one last opportunity for the senior class to be together and get to know one another on a different level, she said.
“It’s just basically the last night before graduation that we are together,” Gutierrez said.
Part of the long standing tradition of Maypole is the girls asking the guys to be their partners. Many chose their partners long before they ever reach high school, Stratton said.
Senior Garrett Hatch will also be continuing a family tradition as he prepares to participate in Maypole. Learning the routine and participating in the long-standing tradition is something that Hatch has been looking forward to, he said.
“I’m ready to see how it looks in the end, see if all that practice pays off or not,” Hatch said.
“It’s something that is just a part of Portales,” Stratton said.