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Fiesta crests to stay at the palace this year; ‘long-term solution’ sought

Daniel Diaz and members of the Santa Fe Fiestas Council hang coats of arms of the council families around the Santa Fe Plaza in 2017. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – The Department of Cultural Affairs announced Monday afternoon that the Fiesta de Santa Fe family coats of arms will hang from the Palace of the Governors for this year’s festivities as the parties work out a “long-term solution.”

According to a statement from DCA spokesperson Loie Fecteau, Cabinet Secretary Veronica Gonzales has directed the department to honor the Santa Fe Fiesta Council’s request to hang the crests from wooden beams on the Palace’s portal “as they have done for decades.”

The wooden crests of many local Hispanic families and representative symbols from the eight northern pueblos have long been hung there during September’s annual Fiesta de Santa Fe, a weeklong commemoration of the 1692 Spanish re-occupation of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas 12 years after the Pueblo Revolt.

Earlier this month, and on behalf of the New Mexico History Museum and the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, museum and Palace of the Governors executive director Andrew Wulf sent a letter to the Fiesta Council requesting that it stop hanging the crests from the wooden beams. The letter cited “cumulative damage” to the historic building’s wood. Fiesta Council President Melissa Mascarenas then reached out to Gonzales concerned about the possible end to the tradition, adding that the crests are not nailed directly to the Palace beams, but rather to a separate piece of wood.

“Finding a long term solution will take more time,” the statement continues. “However, we are confident that we will be able to ensure the preservation of the state’s most treasured historic building, as well as continue the long-standing tradition of displaying the Fiesta family crests without causing damage. The Palace of the Governors is about to undergo a major renovation, which will include restoration of the wood on the Palace portal. We will be working closely in consultation with the Fiestas Council in the coming months.”

Fecteau said the DCA would not be commenting further at this time.

Santa Fe Fiesta Council President Melissa Mascarenas, who learned of the DCA’s decision from a Journal reporter, said “that’s great, wonderful news.”

The council is “of course” open to ongoing discussions with department officials about long-term solutions, according to Mascarenas. Her goal, she said, is to ensure the crests continue to be placed at the Palace.

“That’s my objective always,” she said. “Traditions are very important.”

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