El Paso City Hall demolition cheered: Spectators line streets, rooftop garage

By RamĂłn RenterĂ­a \ El Paso Times

People kick back on Rim Road early Sunday morning to watch and record the demolition of City Hall. (Fernie Castillo / El Paso Times)

El Pasoans watching the City Hall implosion up close felt the concussion and then cheered as the 10-story building tumbled into a pile of rubble.

“Feliz año nuevo (Happy New Year),” a young male spectator yelled from the roof of the Union Plaza Transit Terminal parking garage in Downtown upon hearing the series of explosions.

El Pasoans came out in droves to see the implosion. Spectators were hanging out before daybreak on hillsides, El Paso streets, and lofty perches in Downtown hoping to get a glimpse of the implosion that occurred precisely as scheduled at 9 a.m.

About 150 spectators of all ages gathered at the Union Plaza garage on a brisk but sunny Sunday morning to witness the implosion, another step in transforming the space where City Hall stood for more than 30 years into a baseball stadium. The garage is just a couple of blocks away from what used to be City Hall.

“It was awesome. It’s great to see change coming to El Paso,” said Terry Lambourn, a West Side resident,

Lambourn saw the implosion with her 10-year-old daughter, Abby, a fourth- grade student who said: “It was pretty cool. I just heard boom, boom, boom.”

A woman covers her face Sunday as she joins other people gathered on Rim Road to watch the demolition of the former City Hall building. (Fernie Castillo / El Paso Times)

Spectators brought cameras, lawn chairs, breakfast burritos, bagels and coffee, and even family dogs. Some were wrapped in blankets to repel the morning chill. Others shared stories with friends and family or sent text messages on iPads and smartphones to kill time.

Dan Belcher, 62, the owner of Sun Belt Construction, photographed the City Hall implosion. He also took pictures of the demolition of two Asarco smokestacks a day earlier.

“It was pretty dramatic the way it came down,” Belcher said about the City Hall implosion. “I was expecting more glass to fly but I didn’t see it.”

Sergio Tinajero, 42, a West Side resident who works in commercial real estate, witnessed the implosion surrounded by friends and relatives in Downtown El Paso.

“It was very exciting to see all the windows shake,” he said. “This was a one time event, very, very cool.”

A worker covers his face while photographing the demolition site Sunday. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)

Gustavo Farell, 52, an Upper Valley engineer who works with the maquiladoras in Juárez, was impressed with how well the demolition went.

“I was surprised it was so quick — 10 seconds. I couldn’t believe it,” Farell said.

Rudy Romero, 61, a Clint teacher who lives in Ysleta, showed up at the Camino Real Hotel hoping to get a view from an upper floor. The hotel let guests and others view the implosion from various floors.

“I saw the building come up as it was being built,” Romero said. “Down with the past and on with the new stuff.”

Mona Ortega, a Socorro resident, thought she might not find a good spot after repeatedly running into police barricades. She and her family wound up at the Union Plaza parking garage.

For Ortega, the implosion brought back a bit of nostalgia of the four years she spent working in Mayor Carlos Ramirez’s office.

“It touched my heart,” Ortega said. “This is a once in a lifetime thing probably in El Paso to see a building implode upon itself.”

Rachel Garcia, 48, a West Side substitute teacher and security officer, witnessed the back-to-back demolition of the two Asarco smokestacks on Saturday and then the City Hall implosion. She showed up at 5 a.m. to scope out a perfect lofty viewing spot at Tom Lea Park on Rim Road.

“City Hall is not an old building but still it’s a historic event,” she said.

Just minutes before the City Hall blast, a woman talking on a cellphone with a friend at the Union Plaza parking garage put all the hoopla in perspective.

“It looks like a big ol’ party,” she said.

City Hall falls to the ground during its implosion Sunday morning. Rudy Gutierrez/El Paso Times

RamĂłn RenterĂ­a may be reached at rrenteria@elpasotimes.com; 546-6146. Follow him on Twitter @RamonRrenteria

Source: http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_23025303/demolition-cheered