Bernie Trujillo before the car he learned to drive as a boy and spent 30 years working on.

    Masked and maintaining distance, about 20 members of the Valley’s lowrider community gathered in the parking lot of Quick Stop July 18 to celebrate their cars.

    Then they cruised.

    For the past four years, Española has hosted Lowrider Day in mid-July. Crowds of people usually showcase their cars and admire others’.

    This year, though, given Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s restrictions on mass gatherings  in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, organizer Joan Medina thought the community might not do anything.

    “Then something just got put in my heart, ‘At least do a cruise, that will be social distancing and we won’t be breaking rules or anything,’” she said. “I said, ‘We gotta do something because that’s our passion to do for our community.’”

    People stood by their cars, talking with their family members, and waved at each other, as Medina offered people lowrider wristbands and t-shirts and her husband Lowlow said prayers.

    From the back of his truck, Ernesto Martinez displayed the model cars he makes from credit card plastic and tubing to encourage younger generations to participate in lowrider culture.

    “If I can inspire one kid to build a model at a car show, each event I go to, it’s worth it,” he said.

    Michelle Chacon, who attended the event with her daughter in the family’s bright red sports car, said she was excited to see both young and old people driving their cars to the event.

    “It was great to see all the cars out,” she said. “When you go out, you just feel a sense of pride.”

    Some drivers, though, missed the usual crowds of Lowrider Day and the usual communal activities associated with cruising.

    Bernie Trujillo learned how to drive in the shining blue lowrider truck that he drove on the cruise. He worked on it for over 30 years. He expressed concern about what the low numbers at cruises might mean for the culture.

    “It’s kind of rough now, no?” he said. “It used to be a lot bigger.”

    Chacon misses being able to cook and eat with her fellow lowriders–every Sunday in the summers, she said, community members would prepare hot dogs and hamburgers and fajitas and share them with each other.

    “Last night was very difficult because usually when we all go out and hang out we’re used to hugging each other like family,” she said. “We all get along in that way. And last night it was kind of like, we had to hug each other from afar.”

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