Derek Saiz' eyes lit up Friday afternoon as he drilled screws into the wooden beams of a trailer behind the Clovis hospital.
The Plains Regional Medical Center Plant Services Department employee was preparing the PRMC float, which will be displayed in tonight's Clovis Christmas parade.
"I like doing stuff like this, so I jumped at the chance," Saiz said, his excitement almost reminiscent of a child on Christmas morning. "I was in construction for years, which is all work and no play, I like that here. I get a little bit of play. Plus, it's a way to put a fresh face on Plains Regional."
Saiz said he came up with the idea for the float, which honors New Mexico's 100th anniversary, with a giant hand-made, rotating New Mexico centennial coin with the state emblem and U.S. and New Mexico flags displayed next to it.
"I came up with the idea then I had to put it in the works, because no one knew what I was talking about," he said, laughing. "They all said, 'that's not gonna work.' I proved them wrong."
Saiz managed to not only make his large centennial coin rotate it, but he did it on a limited float budget.
The maintenance man placed the wheels of a coach between two circular pieces of plywood and will stand behind it during the parade to turn the lever he also attached with wood.
"I had a lot of fun," he said of the project. "Way more positive than negatives, that's for sure."
Saiz said the entire Plant Services Department contributed to the project.
With the Portales Christmas light parade one week away, float preparations have not begun for most businesses and organization involved, but ideas are circulating already.
Portales Recreation Center Director Jodi Kibbe said children from the rec center will be doing a Santa's Work Shop theme for their float this year.
"We'll let them dress up Christmasy and use their imagination," she said. "They can be a toy builder or the Grinch, if they want to be."
"We'll start working on it Tuesday and brainstorming on ideas," she said.
The Portales Fire Department said they will string lights on their fire engines the night before the parade and they will carry Santa Claus, as they always do.
"The expression of the kids is what I enjoy," Lt. Floyd Hancock said of riding in the trucks for parades. "They're (kids) even more fun at the light parade, because the lights and Santa and they're just ready for Christmas."
Robin Beaubien, executive director of Clovis MainStreet, said the Clovis parade will kick off with the county courthouse tree lighting up at 5:30 p.m. tonight.
"We find that it works as a really good kick off to the parade," she said. "Knock on wood, the weather looks good this year, so we're excited about that. We still encourage people to dress warmly though because once that sun goes down, it does cool off."
Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karl Terry said the Portales parade will the main course on the town square Friday but there will be plenty of activities in the square prior to the parade, including the public school choirs and other entertainment.
"I think it's just a community effort and people are really excited about it," Terry said. "You just got a different hometown feel, even more so than our Heritage Day parade."
— CMI staff writer
contributed to this report.