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‘Pistoleros’ celebrates El Paso’s history with Billy the Kid reenactments

Photo Courtesy Billy the Kid Festival Facebook page
The Pistoleros de San Elizario re-enacted the historic Billy the Kid jailbreak tale in June.

The legend of Billy the Kid, one of the Southwest’s most famous historical figures, is being kept alive and well by a local troupe.

Now, 134 years since his death, the legend continues with the Pistoleros de San Elizario monthly reenactments of the Billy the Kid story in “The Legendary Breakout of Meliquiades Segura.”

Arturo Avalos, a member of the Pistoleros Troupe, said the reenactment involves both a factual performance and a dramatization of the story.

“We reenact the story of Billy the Kid breaking his friend out of jail,” Avalos said. “We do one that is fact based and a Hollywood version, where we have a shootout, when in reality there wasn’t a shootout.”

The troupe has been performing the Billy the Kid reenactment for two years now, with a performance every third Sunday of the month.

“There was a group who got together before us,” Avalos said. “We took over for them when they stopped performing.”

Many of the actors in Pistoleros are artists who feature their work at the Mission Trail Art Market.

“Most of us are artists in the market, but we even have our spouses or girlfriends take part by dressing up in period clothing and being part of the skit by getting the audience involved,” Avalos said.

Avalos said the reenactments have been very effective in attracting people to the San Elizario area. This has helped artists in the Mission Trail Art Market, sponsors, restaurants and other live performances such as folklorico and matachines dances.

Amy Martinez-Perez, sophomore education major, said attending reenactments and events like these can be very beneficial to a young student’s educational development.

“Attending the reenactment of Billy the Kid can benefit a child’s education in understanding the events and the life of Billy the Kid,” Martinez-Perez said. “Everyone can read and learn about it, but watching a reenactment will really help the children understand the story, which would also include the vivid visuals of clothing and the setting. Of course, you would need to make sure that the children are age appropriate and will understand as to what is occurring in order for them to grasp the reenactment.”

Martinez-Perez also said she believes students should be taught El Paso’s history along with their usual history agenda.

“Students in El Paso should be educated in the history of the city because just as every other city there is a great deal of culture that needs to be showcased to the students in order for them to really appreciate it,” Martinez-Perez said. “It shouldn’t be the main focus, but the students should have an understanding as to what events occurred and what led up to what they know of the present day El Paso.”

Along with educating students, she said the Billy the Kid reenactments may also help students become more aware of the different historical events going on in the city, which in turn can help them become more involved with the community.

“Teachers can increase a student’s involvement with the community by advertising the importance of it,” Martinez-Perez said. “They would need to encourage it among the students and parents and bring the concept into their classrooms.”

For more information about the El Pistoleros de San Elizario Billy the Kid reenactments, call 851-0093 or visit their Facebook page.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected].

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‘Pistoleros’ celebrates El Paso’s history with Billy the Kid reenactments