ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico continues to open up now that most cities are in Turquoise, more events that have been staples in the community can begin again. Events like graduations, major flea markets, and community art scholarships mark the beginning of the summer.

The University of New Mexico held their first in-person graduation since 2019 on Saturday, but things were far from back to their usual programming this year. In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the ceremony was held outside at University Stadium. Students were spread apart by at least one seat on the bleachers and they all wore masks.

All of the students in attendance had one thing in common, they were determined to celebrate the accomplishments of completing college, and completing college during a global pandemic. “I think it’s really important for me to just be able to celebrate a day, after all the four years of hard work that we’ve all put in. Especially with everything this past year, it’s not been easy, so I think it’s just really nice to have a day to celebrate everything we’ve done and how far we’ve come since then,” said Nidhi Kanabar.

“After four years of going to college, and after the year that we’ve had, it’s kind of nice to just be in person. This is what we’ve been working up to. It’s just important that we can have our accomplishments recognized. Overall, it’s just something I’ve always wanted to experience,” Markel Poore said.

Saturday was the first day that the Expo Flea Market opened its doors since the pandemic began. Vendor Jesse Fox has been selling comic books at the flea market for 13 years. When the market had to be shut down because of the pandemic, it was difficult for him. “I feel like I fit again, like we’re back with the family now. It feels good,” Fox said.

Families with children of all ages lined the walkways as people shopped at the market like they did before the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Police Department honored student artists as part of the lowrider design contest.

As part of the APD Lowrider Youth Leadership Program, students collaborate with the community on the lowrider vehicle. City Councilor Klarissa Peña spearheaded the project and held a drive-thru event so community members can see the car from the safety of their own. “This is pretty darn incredible. This isn’t just about the lowriders, it’s about what went into the lowrider car,” Peña said.