After more than a year of living in a pandemic, state restrictions and limitations have been relaxed.

Because of this, the Fourth of July is a little bit more special, as it’s the first holiday in a long time that will have a sense of normalcy.

In recognition of our country’s Independence Day and the completion of Phase 1 of a new community quality-of-life amenity, the city has planned a free special event I encourage residents to come out and enjoy tonight, Sunday, July 4.

Taking place in City Center — accessible from Unser Boulevard or Paseo del Volcan — and the brand-new Campus Park, festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with a performance by the 44th Army Band. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Campus Park, the New Mexico Philharmonic will take to the Sky Room outdoor amphitheater stage, made possible by the generosity and support of several Rio Rancho businesses.

Tonight will conclude with a spectacular fireworks show about 9:15 p.m. Ample free parking will be available in City Center for those just seeking to take in the fireworks.

Mayor Gregg Hull

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Whether it’s on Independence Day or sometime in the near future, I hope residents will take advantage of Campus Park. This project was many years in the making and was born out of community member input that identified Rio Rancho’s lack of an outdoor community gathering space.

Campus Park is a reality today only because of many contributors and collaborators such as the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, the Rio Rancho Arts Commission, Hewlett-Packard, MRWM Landscape Architects, TA Cole & Sons General Contractors and the Rio Rancho Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.

City staff deserve tremendous kudos for ensuring this project was not delayed by the pandemic.

Phase 1 of the park includes an amphitheater, event lawns with trails, space for food trucks, a bathroom building and parking. Future phases will add additional amenities and finish building out this 6-acre space.

Campus Park is not your typical recreation space. City Center is home to local government, health care facilities, higher education institutions, entertainment and private-sector employers. As a result, on a daily basis, the space will be utilized by college students, those working in the area and those residing nearby.

At other times, Campus Park will be home to city special events of all types such as movies, concerts, fairs/festivals, recreational opportunities, Rio Rancho Events Center pre- and after-show activities and much more.

I am very excited to announce that this October, Campus Park will be used for a new city special event, a Fall Festival Funday. In December, I’m looking forward to the community joining me for Winterfest and a new holiday tradition, the lighting of Rio Rancho’s Holiday Christmas Tree at Campus Park.

Lastly, as we mark Rio Rancho’s 40th anniversary throughout this year, I believe Campus Park is a tremendous addition to the community and will be a quality-of-life focal point for the next 40 years and beyond.

(Mayor Gregg Hull was elected to his second term in 2018.)