Despite unfavorable weather Friday morning, the Las Animas community braved wet and cold conditions in support of Santa Fe Trail Day, an 82-year-old celebration made possible through the hard work of Las Animas High School students and sponsors.

Despite unfavorable weather Friday morning, the Las Animas community braved wet and cold conditions in support of Santa Fe Trail Day, an 82-year-old celebration made possible through the hard work of Las Animas High School students and sponsors.

Getting under way Friday morning indoors, queen and costume judging took place in the LAHS gymnasium followed by the annual parade downtown. Grand marshal for the parade was the local First Cavalry Chapter and all Vietnam veterans. The ranchburger dinner took place at the high school from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the always popular square dancing competition between classes and queen coronation took place from 2-4 p.m. in the gymnasium.

The 2015 Santa Fe Trail Day Queen, Kylie Miller crowned senior Ashlie Stwalley the 2016 Santa Fe Trail Day Queen. Stwalley was chosen from four candidates nominated at the beginning of the school year by the students to represent their classes of freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Candidates meet with parents and coordinators to begin their preparations at the beginning of the year. From then on, they work individually to prepare their costumes and parade transportation. In April, candidates are given questions regarding the Santa Fe Trail to research and study for an interview. The one question that each candidates knows will be asked is to describe their dress and explain how it is appropriate for the time period. Three other unknown questions are asked related to either the history of the trail or local history. It is from this knowledge, poise, and presentation that one candidate is chosen to be queen. Each candidate rides in the parade and makes a grand walk during the square dance competition. Candidates were Stwalley, representing the senior class; Gayle Boyd, freshman; Alyssa Martines, sophomore; and Icey Wilson, junior.

Additionally, a number of awards were given to area residents for their commitment to community and creativity as applied to the Sants Fe Trail Day theme.

Mitch Garcia, Santa Fe Trail Day Committee president, presented the Citizen of the Year award, given annually to someone who has provided support for the students not only with Santa Fe Trail Day but other endeavors at school and in the community. The 2016 award winner, John Thomas, was honored for his commitment to youth in the community. Thomas started many young students out with their first paying job and taught them work ethics and pride in the community. He has been known to pass out ice cream to kids at their baseball games. He has supported Santa Fe Trail Day for many years, never refusing a request from the students and helping to see many of their events become a success. He supports the FFA student sale and oyster fry annually. He worked on Santa Fe Trail Day for years through the Chamber of Commerce and the downtown activities. Additionally, he has several community pride projects that he works on such as cutting weeds at the fairgrounds, beautifying the sidewalk by the football field and in front of the old high school, as well as taking care of the area along the highway by Family Dollar and watering the trees.

Costume awards were presented to Mitch Garcia, Best Cowboy; Cara Miller, Best Cowgirl; Kayla Gallegos, Best Indian Girl; and Dominique Martinez, Best Senorita. Honorable Mention awards were presented to Courtney Turner, Alicia Deatherage, Makayla Hall, Aubry Arellano, Kree Wallace and Jaiden Eck.

Parade winners were: Best Community Float - Western Prairie 4-H Club; Best Class Float - Junior Class; and Best Antique Vehicle - Southeast Colorado Car Club.

At the conclusion of the square dancing competition, the junior class was awarded first place, followed by sophomores, seniors and freshmen. Awarded first place overall during the Santa Fe Trail competition was the senior class, followed by juniors, freshmen and sophomores.