ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Every Saturday afternoon, whether rain, heat, snow, blustery winds or bitter cold, Taylor Park in northeast Albuquerque becomes a battleground.
Local men and women come out, dressed in medieval garb, to play Amtgard, a live action role play combat game at Taylor Park, aka Pegasus Valley. With their homemade foam weapons, the group spends hours throwing, thrusting, swinging and running. The objective of the game changes all the time but the fun, according to the participants, never does.
Casandra Tognoni, 26, started playing when she was 12 years old in Las Cruces. She moved to Albuquerque with her family when she was 15 and joined the Pegasus Valley group. Tognoni battles every Saturday but is also considered an expert weapons maker and garber, often putting together costumes and building weapons for group members. She said once the group starts moving around, they hardly notice the weather.
Amtgard was started in El Paso, Texas, in 1983 and now has 10,000 active members around the globe, according to its website. The Albuquerque chapter started in 1993, a year before longtime member Matt Fuentes, who was then only 17, set foot on the Taylor Park battlefield for the first time. He joined the Army after high school and traveled the country, but no matter where he went, Amtgard remained a part of his life. He moved back to Albuquerque seven years ago and returned to the group at Taylor Park.