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Fall is a wonderful time in New Mexico, filled with temperate weather and a wealth of annual traditions. This year a few of those traditions may look a bit different—but thanks to some creative work-arounds, they’re still happening.
UNM Homecoming isn’t quite what it used to be thanks to the COVID lockdown. There isn’t, for example, any actual football being played at UNM. So the Alumni Association has gotten creative this year with a week of events, including spirit yard sign campaigns, virtual ribbon cuttings and socially distanced tailgate parties. On Thursday, Oct. 1 at 5:30pm, the party heads out to Balloon Fiesta Park (9201 Balloon Museum Dr. NE) for Drive-In Movie Night. A mere $5 gets you an open-air slot to park your vehicle, do a little tailgating and watch a screening (at sundown) of the much-loved 2000 sports drama Remember the Titans. The film stars Denzel Washington as an inspirational football coach helping his team overcome adversity and racism. To reserve your tickets, go to balloonparkdrive.in. To see what else is happening for the 2020 UNM Homecoming, check out unmalumni.com/homecoming.
Sadly for indie film lovers, Nob Hill’s Guild Cinema has been closed since March thanks to the pandemic. But the venerable art house theater is teaming up with New Mexico Black History Organizing Committee to present a timely outdoor screening of the documentary SNCC. The film traces the history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. and its most famous founding member, civil rights leader/congressman John Lewis. The film is directed by legendary photojournalist/photographer Danny Lyon, who worked with the SNCC back in the ’60s. Lyon himself is on hand to introduce the film and speak about the history behind it. Screenings happen Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2 and 3, starting at 7:30pm in the parking lot of the FUSION Theatre (700 First St. NW). This is a “pay what you can” event, and proceeds go to the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center. Seating for this socially distanced event is limited, so you must reserve your tickets in advance by going to form.jotform.com/202613793740960.
Feeling artistic? ABQ ZineFest, 7000 B.C. and 24 Hour Comics Day are combining their creative might to create Makers Weekend. Since 2008 24 Hour Comics Day has been an annual, international event encouraging writers and artists to get together, put their noses to the grindstone and crank out full-length, hand-crafted comic books in a mere 24 hours. This year, of course, nobody can get together in person, so the organizers of ABQ ZineFest and local sequential art organization 7000 B.C. are doing it all virtually. It starts on Friday, Oct. 2 at 6pm with an opening night party on Zoom, which will go over the rules, schedule and terms of conduct for the weekend. Live readings and music are also scheduled for the Friday party. The 24 Hour Comics Day marathon itself starts at noon on Saturday, Oct. 3 and goes until noon on Sunday. It will happen live on the Zoom and Discord apps. A variety of activities will keep participants excited, inspired and—most of all—awake. Raffles every two hours, live music and conversations with fellow creators are all on tap. I’ve actually participated in 24 Hour Comics Day, and I can tell you it’s a hell of a lot of work and a hell of a lot of fun. If you want to break out your pencils and ink pens and participate in 24 Hour Comic Day, you need to register by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. But if you just want to drop in and observe all the fun, you can do it live on Facebook. For more info go to abqzf.com or 7000bc.org.
The International Balloon Fiesta has been an annual Albuquerque tradition for an incredible 49 years. But in 2020 the Fiesta is on a siesta. Unable to support the massive crowds in the era of facemasks and social distancing, Albuquerque has downsized the event to a more modest Balloon Fall Fiesta. On the mornings of Oct. 3, 4, 7, 10 and 11, small groups of hot air balloons will launch from a variety of parks around the city. Spectators are not allowed at the launch sites, but the spaced-out schedule allows residents all over Albuquerque to observe the colorful craft in the safety of their own neighborhoods. Get your coffee and breakfast burritos, and look to the skies starting at dawn.