Risque celebration may not fly in Clovis

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

So what are you doing to ring in the New Year? Going to a party? Watching TV? Sleeping?

If we had a big celebration on Main Street to welcome 2007, would you go? I mean New York has its brilliant ball of glittering crystal dropping in Times Square, New Orleans has a giant lighted gumbo pot falling from the Jax Beer Building. Couldn’t we have a unique, shiny something dropping from the Hotel Clovis? Maybe a railroad spike? A cow chip? A neon Special Ops paratrooper?

I was going to mention that Albuquerque tradition of running the Sandia Peak Tram up the slope of the Sandias on New Year’s Eve. The run was timed so the tram car reached the top at midnight and lit up. I called the tramway office to ask about it.

“Yeah,” said a disinterested 20-something woman. “They don’t do that anymore,” she said in a familiar Gen-Xer deadpan tone. “That was years ago.” Suddenly I felt old.

And I know we won’t see naked people in downtown Clovis spinning flaming batons as 2007 begins.

Allow me to explain.

I once lived in a place where naked fire dancers welcomed in the new year. I don’t know if they still do this in Bisbee, Ariz., but it happened once when I lived there. The city had closed off one of the streets in the center of the historic district. I had been there with hundreds of other townsfolk, visited with my pals, then decided to head home before the beginning of 2002. That’s why I missed out on all of the “fun.”

The next morning I popped out of my front door and waved to my across-the-street neighbor Linda.

“Did you stay for the naked fire dancers last night?” she called out.
She had my immediate attention.

Linda proceeded to tell me that the revelry continued into the wee hours of the morning. The music was loud, people were dancing in the streets when somewhere around 2 a.m. some new arrivals from Seattle emerged in the middle of the crowd, doffed their clothes, lit some batons and proceeded to do a fire dance to welcome the new year.

“Yeah,” Linda said, “there were five or six young women with dreadlocks, seemed to really know this fire dancing stuff. The crowd went wild.”

Linda went on to say this was all pretty exciting to her 18-year-old son who was visiting from Phoenix. “Yeah,” she said, “he turns to me with these big eyes and says, ‘Mom, I want to move to Bisbee.’”

I get the impression folks doing naked things in public is an accepted part of the Pacific Northwest lifestyle. For instance in the past year I’ve stumbled across news from the town of Fremont, near Seattle, where a summer solstice celebration features naked people marching in a parade. I can’t see this happening during our Pioneer Days parade. Then there’s the “World Naked Bike Ride” of Portland.

“Over-educated people with too much time on their hands,” remarked The Lady of the House when I told her of these things.

So let’s welcome 2007 with a smile. Whether you welcome it partying, in front of the tube, snugly asleep in your bed or doing a naked fire dance, just be safe, OK? It’s a new year! And I hope it’s your best ever!

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: