Pandemic bringing one of the Borderland’s oldest traditions to a halt

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – This Easter weekend will look different in the Borderland as COVID-19 continues to spread.

The pandemic has brought one of the Borderland’s oldest traditions to a halt.

Photo from Good Friday 2019

Every year on Good Friday thousand of people have gathered at the base of Mount Cristo Rey and made the trek up the mountain. However, this Good Friday it was quite the opposite. The road blocked off with a sign that read Mount Cristo Rey is closed and no trespassing.

“Today I said where is everybody. You miss all the excitement going on out there,” said Tony Pena a long-time Sunland Park Resident.

The annual pilgrimage has happened for at least the past fifteen years and this was the first time it had to be canceled.

“There’s no cars in front of my yard, no people, no noise, nadie,” said Pena.

He added it didn’t feel like Good Friday.

“It just felt weird, it’s different because usually you have a lot of people walking, parking and there is none,” said Enrique Gallegos a Sunland Park Resident.

Barricades blocking road to Mount Cristo Rey

The Mount Cristo Rey Restoration Committee says due to COVID-19 the Holy Week pilgrimage had to be canceled. Barricades were set to make sure no one tried to go up on their own.

“Once this is finished we will have it opened up on the weekends and we will have a notice so people can climb up there,” said Ruben Escandon a spokesman for the Mount Cristo Rey Restoration Committee.

Escandon says the committee may hold a special pilgrimage later on to make up for this one. However, he believes there is still a way to keep the tradition alive.

Mount Cristo Rey

“This is an opportunity to stay home and share this with your family and to experience what Christ went through and what he gave up for us,” said Escandon.

Due to the pandemic Mount Cristo Rey will remain closed until further notice.

As for the annual pilgrimage held on the anniversary of Mount Cristo Rey in October, organizers say they are hopeful it will go on as planned.

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