In a great spirit of celebration, the town and county of Taos, as well as Taos Pueblo, will host “Dennis Hopper Day” on Saturday (May 17).
Taos Pueblo Gov. Clyde M. Romero, issued a statement saying, “We, the Red Willow People of the Taos Valley, recognize May 17, 2014, as Dennis Hopper Day. Our forefathers let Dennis shoot his film, ‘Easy Rider,’ in 1968 and he became friends with our Elders and People of the Pueblo. On May 17th, we will recognize Dennis Hopper Day annually.”
The day’s schedule of events is presented with Eagle Thunder Enterprises.
The day begins with an invitation to all motorcyclists to ride in the first-ever “Easy Rider Ride.” It is free to ride and you can register at dennishopperday.com.
Bikers will gather at 11 a.m. in the Ranchos de Taos Plaza, off State Road 68 near the old El Cortez Theater where Hopper lived at one point. The 49-mile ride will then commence at 1 p.m. Riders will travel south to Pilar, with the planned route going through the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
The ride will then turn north to reach the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. It will then loop around to the next scheduled stop, Taos Pueblo, which will include a gathering with representatives, family, and community. Taos Pueblo Tribal Police and Taos County Sheriff will escort the ride.
The Easy Rider Ride will culminate in the Historic Taos Plaza, with exclusive parking for participating motorcycles beginning at 4 p.m.
Local Taos band, The Damn Band, will kick off the Dennis Hopper Commemoration Reception in the Plaza at 4 p.m. with performances of songs from the “Easy Rider” movie soundtrack. This event is open to the public and admission is free.
Afterward, Taos Mayor Dan Barrone and officials will make a town and county of Taos proclamation. In addition to recognizing May 17 as Dennis Hopper Day, there will be an announcement about making it an official town and county holiday.
In the press release, Barrone states, “Our town is proud to host this important and timely recognition of such a distinguished award-winning artist, actor, director, writer, philanthropist, and art collector who called Taos ‘home.’ “
Some area restaurants are planning to serve special Hopper-inspired dishes, such Ranchos Plaza Grill and Old Martina’s Hall (both in Ranchos de Taos) and Alley Cantina off the northwest corner of Taos Plaza.
Beyond arts and culture, Taos will memorialize Hopper in its civic records for perpetuity –– with the unveiling of a Dennis Hopper Street designation and sign.
“We have been working on this for weeks,” says Jonah Reynolds, media contact for town of Taos. “We’ve had a lot of coordination of approvals and logistics with town and county officials, as well as with the Hopper estate.”
Robby Romero of Eagle Thunder Enterprises will serve as representative on behalf of the Hopper Estate and Trust. The press release notes that as a child, Romero lived with Hopper at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos. In a statement, Romero says: “Dennis loved the land of enchantment and had a mystical connection to Taos.”
Representatives of the Taos Pueblo Governor and War Chief’s offices are scheduled to be in attendance with Hopper family representatives, along with town of Taos Manager Rick Bellis and Taos County Commissioner Larry Sanchez.
Concluding the day’s events, there will be a 7 p.m. free screening of “Easy Rider,” the 1969 film directed by and starring Hopper, at the Historic Taos County Courthouse, 104 North Taos Plaza.
Hopper was born May 17, 1936, in Dodge City, Kansas. The timing of his birth coincided with a record-setting heat wave that swept the region. After an illustrious life (with a dash of infamy), he died of prostate cancer in Los Angeles on May 29, 2010 –– but he chose to be laid to rest in Taos. At his funeral in the historic San Francisco de Asís Church in Ranchos de Taos Plaza, numerous friends, family and celebrities were in attendance.
Hopper’s deep love of Taos is traceable to a 1970 interview with The New York Times, in which the suddenly famous filmmaker was being asked about movies. But then without segue, he said, “I moved to Taos because I don’t like the people in Los Angeles, even though they do have nice banks. I tell you, man, you ought to come down here to Taos. It’s beautiful. Taos is the beautiful place to be.”
For details about the event, visit dennishopperday.com.
Letter of thanks
“My father, Dennis Hopper, loved Taos. It was a place that gave him the creative freedom that he desired throughout his life. I’m looking forward to participating in the first annual Dennis Hopper Day Celebration. Many thanks to a very close friend of my father’s and the Hopper Family, Robby Romero, for making this day happen; and to the Taos Pueblo, and to the town and county of Taos for hosting such a wonderful commemoration of my father –– and his work as an actor, director, and artist.”
– XO, Marin Hopper
Dennis Hopper Day Schedule of Events
Saturday (May 17)
Easy Rider Ride
11 a.m. Bikers meet at Ranchos de Taos Plaza, State Road 68
1 p.m. Easy Rider Ride begins. Stops include San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos, Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Taos Pueblo, ends at Taos Plaza
Dennis Hopper Commemoration Reception
4 p.m. Taos Plaza, parking limited to participating Easy Rider Ride motorcyclists. Live music performance by The Damn Band, featuring songs from the “Easy Rider” film soundtrack
5 p.m. Commemoration and ceremonies including: Reading of 2010 State of New Mexico Proclamation, declaring May 17 as Dennis Hopper Day (signed by former Gov. Bill Richardson); town and county proclamation; announcement of official town and county holiday; unveiling of Dennis Hopper Street designation and sign. Statements by Taos Pueblo Gov. Clyde M. Romero, Robby Romero, and Dean Stockwell.
7 p.m. Screening of “Easy Rider” at Historic Taos County Courthouse, 104 North Taos Plaza. Free admission, limited seating.
For updates, visit dennishopperday.com