ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of Mayor Keller’s earliest memories is as a 4-year-old boy dropping a hamburger into the fountain at Civic Plaza while having lunch with his dad.
“I still remember reaching down to the ice cold water and taking a bite out of it – it tasted like chlorine,” Keller said to a crowd of city employees and Albuquerque residents at the unveiling of the redesign of Civic Plaza on Saturday afternoon.
Keller said the old fountain – while memorable – wasn’t family friendly, used tons of water and was broken a lot.
As part of the $6.5 million dollar project, funded by Lodgers Tax Revenues, in its place are two LED-lit water features; an interactive fountain that shoots jets of water rhythmically into the air, and five large cubes, over which water flows, as intermittent bursts of water shoot from their tops.
The renovations also include a playground designed to look like a prickly pear cactus with ropes, nets to climb, alongside accompanying chimes and drums.
Across the plaza, at the Al Hurricane Pavilion, the city added a new sound system, giant projector screen and theatrical lighting.
“We believe that Civic Plaza should be a great place in our city and a keystone in Downtown,” he said.
Keller said the whole area is ADA accessible and thanked Mayor Richard Berry’s administration for the foresight and investment into the redesign.
“One thing that happens when we have transitions is new mayors jump in for old mayors and we inherit things, both good and bad,” he said. “This is a good thing.”
By the end of summer, Keller said the city will add swings and slides to the play area and solar panels on eastern terraces to provide shade and energy.
Keller cut the ribbon on the redesign and watched with his wife as his two children ran through the fountains alongside several others, while Al Hurricane’s voice carried across the plaza, his face stretched over a 16 by 30 foot screen tucked between a sound system on the opposite end.
Kate Loggins lamented forgetting a towel as she watched her daughter and grandkids run through the streams of water screaming and laughing.
“It’s all good, they’re happy, they’re having fun,” she said. “That’s what matters.”
Loggins called the renovations a big improvement that will “beautify” Civic Plaza for residents and tourists visiting the city.
“It’s something unique,” she said.
As for Keller and many others, Civic Plaza is steeped in nostalgia for Loggins, who performed there with the Filipino American Associations during Summerfest over 35 years ago.
“I used to come here every single weekend,” she said.
Loggins said she plans to visit often so her family can enjoy it as she once did.