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Aztec's Old Soreheads

New Aztec "Sorehead" Welcome Sign
Animas River in the Fall, as seen from the Hartman Park pedestrian bridge.

Nestled among cottonwood trees along the Animas River in northwest New Mexico, Aztec was named after 12th century Puebloan ruins. Aztec has been a thriving community for almost a millenia, and along the way has garnered a boatload of stories ranging from Billy the Kid to UFO crashes. But one of the town's most endearing stories is about Aztec's Old Soreheads.

Every community has them, and Aztec's Old Soreheads are a cut above.  Aztec's Old Soreheads tradition began in the 1960s, initiated by the Aztec City Commission as a means of injecting humor into the community and recognizing outstanding community members and volunteers. 

Today, the Sorehead tradition continues thanks to the town's community newspaper, the Aztec Talon. Every year, "Soreheads" are nominated by the community, and each nominee participates in a friendly competition to acquire the most community votes. Residents "vote" for their favorite Sorehead by contributing cash donations to each nominee's "campaign," and the six nominees with the most votes win the revered "Sorehad" title. Each is unmasked at a community parade every fall. In addition to creating a unique history for Aztec, the Sorehead tradition has tangible value for the community: Soreheads donate "campaign contributions" to a local charity or nonprofit, proving they're not so "sore" after all. 

Sorehead Signs depicting caricatures of the six Old Soreheads welcome visitors to Aztec as they enter city limits. Next time you visit Aztec, don't forget to stop by the Aztec Visitor Center and take a picture with the official Sorehad sign. We even created a cut-out in the sign so visitors can be an honorary Sorehead for a day. Stop in and be a part of the fun!

For More Information, Contact:

City of Aztec
110 N. Ash Avenue, Aztec, NM 87410
(505) 334-9551 · toll-free (888) 543-4629

Sug McNall wrote on August 29, 2014: Warren and I are both proud to be Soreheads from a few years ago. Someone told us that "once a Sorehead, always a Sorehead" :) :)

Phyllis Lee wrote on February 05, 2014: My heart goes out to all of Aztec. We just lost one of our 6 old soreheads. Dean Woodruff left this world on February 27th and he will be greatly missed.

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Boundaries and names shown do not necessarily reflect the map policy of National Geographic.

Latitude: 36.835595000
Longitude: -107.980172000
Elevation: 5687 FT (1733 M)
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Wilann Thomas
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