The town he destroyed celebrates Pancho Villa Day!
Trip Start Nov 25, 2006
103Trip End Ongoing
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Pancho Villa Day is quirky border life at its best...and magnified exponentially.
To really understand this celebration day, you have to know a little history. In the early morning hours of March 9, 1916, Mexican General Francisco Pancho Villa led his invading army against the village of Columbus, New Mexico and nearby U.S. military Camp Furlong. Villa's troops razed the town of Columbus, killing 17 Americans, burning buildings and destroying the landmark clock in the town square.
One day each spring hundreds gather for an annual festival at the New Mexico state park now named after Villa, one of Mexico's greatest heroes, to reenact the history-making ride. It was held on March 6 this year
However, this annual day of commemoration highlights goodwill and friendship between the US and Mexico. Although it is officially known as "Camp Furlong Day," the locals are more apt to refer to the celebration as "Pancho Villa Day."
The Cabalgata Binacional Villista, a parade of up to 100 Mexican horse riders, highlights the multicultural festival. They culminate a 14-day ride from Guerrero, Chihuahua to Columbus, N.M. the morning of the festival. American horse riders from Columbus, Deming, Silver City and Las Cruces join the Cabalgata at the border for the final leg of the Cabalgata's ride into Columbus.
Some Mexican riders can't cross the border. But the new mayor of Columbus's sister-bordertown, Palomas, joined the riders this year. Horses are a big hit on the border, at least around here.
Another interesting footnote to history is that Villa's attack led to a military advance that goes way beyond horses. The 11-month Punitive Expedition that it triggered marked the first time mechanized vehicles and aircraft were used in warfare. That paved the way to prepare the US for the key role it would play in the First World War.
But the festival pictures are even more entertaining than the history.