Rainbow Day in Albuquerque

Genie Davis January 4, 2014 No Comments


Kids love color. You know they do. They color on walls. They love face painting, sidewalk chalk art, finger painting, rainbow hair streaks. So naturally, they’d love to be part of a color mob. Never heard of a color mob? We hadn’t either, until we attended our first, in a park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Rainbow people moving through the Color Mob

Part run, part walk this multi-colored experience is what happens when you mix participants of all ages with colored corn starch – and blend, pleasantly. The non-harmful, easy to wash out colored corn starch is tossed on participants, so the bottom line is,  no matter what the mob’s about other than that, it’s about color.

And let me tell you, our kids had so much fun turning pink and yellow and green. It’s like being in a cartoon come to life.  We all started out wearing cheap white tee shirts and light colored shorts. If you read the literature for color runs, it explains that light colors work best to show off your own personal rainbow. When we were done, we were lots of colors, and I’d have to say my kids’ favorite was pink. Day glow pink.

Non-staining, Non-toxic Washable Colors

Don’t worry about the colored cornstarch getting in little eyes – it just doesn’t happen. It does get in hair and mysteriously under fingernails, though, so be forewarned. Everything comes off in the shower and the washing machine though – the tee shirts came out white again. Which for us was frankly a bit of a disappointment. And the race organizers go to great lengths to inform participants that cornstarch is non-toxic,  doesn’t cause rashes, and is FDA approved.

A 5K for All Ages

As to the event itself, we walked rather than ran most of the 5K. There were plenty of parents with the stroller set, as well as serious runners, families with kids of all ages, and young adults enjoying the party atmosphere. The volunteers who toss the color at each kilometer were all in good spirits, and gave the kids encouraging words. In fact there were a lot of little children – kids under 7 at this event were free. With no finishing times or competitive prizes, the race is really, truly, just for fun.

Festival of Colors History

The idea for a color mob grew out of the Holi Festival, or Festival of Colors that’s celebrated each early spring in Nepal and India. The Holi festival celebrates the success of good over evil. People all hug each other, wish each other a happy holi, and  paint themselves and others with color made from natural flower petals as well as something called gulal and abeer made of powder and crystals. In the U.S. color festivals are strictly a cornstarch affair.

At the end of the race there were food trucks with some great stacked enchiladas and burritos, and then enhancing the Indian origin of the race, there were curry dishes, and vegetable kebabs. There were also DJ’s, dancing, crafts booths, and picnickers. The dancing went on into the early evening. Some dancers used hula hoops, some dressed in Indian saris.

A race organizer offered statistics on donations – this Color Mob worked with several different non-profits raising funds for worthy causes, many of them local. Participants in the race could join a program online when they signed up for the race, so that they could have links sent to supporters for donations, with payments earmarked for a chosen charity through PayPal. In Albuquerque, local Ronald McDonald Houses were the chief beneficiary.

So after the New Mexico sunset began to fade, we went back to our hotel to wash off some of that cornstarch and find ourselves another colorful event.

Puffs of color show up as the Color Mob 5k begins!

Los Poblanos Inn

We stayed at the truly beautiful Los Poblanos Inn. The rooms feature some pretty colorful textiles, the grounds feature an organic farm share program. You can’t get any fresher fare than that, if you’re looking for locivore food. The full breakfasts included with the room rate are superlative. Fresh fruit, a lovely frittata – adults were happy. And the kids loved the house made waffles with fresh from the garden compote. We all loved the spacious adobe walled rooms, and the grounds most of all. Lavender fields, beautiful flower gardens, and large shady cottonwoods surround the twenty rooms. It’s a special place, with a garden almost as colorful as the color mob itself.

Rainbow Ryders Balloonists

Our last day in town took us up into the air searching for real rainbows with the aptly named Rainbow Ryders balloonists. Our early morning flight let us view the cloudy Rio Grande and the clear blue skies, the rough hewn Sandia mountains, and stark rock formations. While I’m sorry to say we didn’t see any rainbows, the brightly colored balloon itself was another vibrant treat.

Other Local Activities for Kids

With a theme like color spurring our weekend, we had to finish at colorful exhibits housed at the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum. Lots of hands on projects for the kids, and a really kind docent made this interactive museum a huge win. Yes, there’s actual science and math learning couched inside fun exhibits, but you don’t have to let your kids know that. Ages two to ten will be fascinated, older kids will have to admit it’s a lot of fun too. Think of San Francisco’s Exploratorium on a much smaller scale and you’ll get the idea.

avatarAbout the Author:

Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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