Racin' with the wind

Dennis Hopper Day gets set to roll into town

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The town of Taos plans to celebrate the life of Dennis Hopper, the late actor, filmmaker, artist and former Taos resident, with a day of events.

The celebration will take place Wednesday (May 17), Hopper’s birthday and the day designated as Dennis Hopper Day in New Mexico. This year’s Dennis Hopper Day celebration will feature a motorcycle rally and ride, live music and screenings of Hopper’s most famous films, according to a town of Taos press release.

The honoree was a major Hollywood star throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, writing and starring in several high-profile films of the time. Despite the appeal of the Hollywood lifestyle, Hopper was a longtime resident, advocate and enthusiast of Taos, leaving many locals with great stories of his early and later years in the community.

Hopper also had a reputation for rowdy behavior, debauched parties and other stories about his times here.

Activities, festivities and celebrations will take place at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. The fun begins at 5 p.m. with the “Easy Rider Rally,” where motorcyclists will gather in the parking lot. After the rally will be an “Easy Rider Ride” across the Río Grande Gorge Bridge on U.S. 64 and a post-ride buffalo barbecue catered by the Tiwa Kitchen of Taos Pueblo, also at the TCA.

One of the classic films directed and written by Hopper will be screened at the Rebel Film Festival. During the evening, Robby Romero, event organizer and Hopper’s close friend, along with Taos Pueblo musician Robert Mirabal, will have a “Dennis Hopper Birthday Commemoration Concert” – along with special guests.

“Dennis Hopper was and remains a legend to the people of Taos,” said Karina Armijo, director of marketing and tourism for the town of Taos. “It’s a great thing to see the town come together to celebrate the life of a man who made such an impact on our community.”

The first Dennis Hopper Day was dedicated by the 30th governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, on May 17, 2010. In 2014, Taos Pueblo recognized May 17 as Dennis Hopper Day annually. Both Taos County and the town proclaimed May 17 to be annually known as Dennis Hopper Day and even designated a street, “Hopper Highway,” after the counterculture icon.

Richardson wrote a speech for last year’s celebration. He said, “Six years ago, on May 17, 2010, I proclaimed a state holiday honoring Dennis Hopper. Dennis loved this state as much as I, so it seems fitting that I should say a few words in honor of his tremendous contributions. Dennis, from his first film to his last, championed the arts in New Mexico.

“He shot and filmed in New Mexico and inspired other fellow artists and filmmakers to do the same. His life, journey and social influence were visionary. He changed the way America thinks, which changed the way America acts. Dennis Hopper is a friend, supporter and advocate of indigenous peoples in New Mexico and supports the state’s rich cultural diversity. It is fitting and an honor that the state of New Mexico extends appropriate recognition and deep appreciation to Dennis Hopper, a cultural icon and friend to many, for his artistic and cultural contributions to our state and to the entire world.”

For more information, visit dennishopperday.com.

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