56 years in the making, Tovar family shares Spring Fiesta crown


Daniel Ornelas

2020 Spring Fiesta Queen, Mackenzie Tovar (left), with her grandmother, Elena Tovar (Ruiz). Elena was named El Paso High School Spring Fiesta Queen in 1964.

Olivia Gouveia and Sydney Truax

El Paso High School (EPHS) has an endless amount of long standing traditions that past and present Tigers get to share.

One that is unique to the school is the Spring Fiesta dance. This year’s queen, Mackenzie Tovar, has a personal attachment to the crown.

Mackenzie’s family has had a legacy here at EPHS and whose grandmother, Elena Tovar (Ruiz), was crowned Spring Fiesta Queen in 1964. Mackenzie said she’s honored to be able to carry on the tradition and follow in her grandmother’s footsteps.

“I think it’s more of a big deal to her than it is to me, because I think, unfortunately Spring Fiesta has kind of lost all of the hype I guess that it used to be,” Mackenzie said. “But I think it’s so cool because I get to do it. It’s a nice thing that my peers decided to vote.”

From a young age, Mackenzie knew about her grandmother’s legacy in high school and used to look through old yearbooks to see all the different activities that Elena was involved in throughout her high school career.

“I always knew that she was the Spring Fiesta Queen. She was actually a lot of Queens in high school, she was really popular which is really cute,” Mackenzie said. “She’s in all her yearbooks, so when I was really little I looked through all her your books and then I saw her there.”

When Mackenzie shared the news with her grandmother that she had been nominated, Elena was proud of her and excited that she was able to share similar experiences with her granddaughter.

“She was really happy for me and I texted her and then she was extremely happy, like happier than she’s ever been with me ever,” Mackenzie said. “I guess it was pretty cool that I had a chance to make her that happy.”

Over the years, there have been a few changes that have happened to the dance. A big difference is that the location of Spring Fiesta used to be at the Coliseum. Even royalty from other high schools in the area would attend the dance.

“It was a big, big event back then, to have it at the (El Paso County) Coliseum. It would have booths with games and they used to have a marriage booth for you to get married with your boyfriend at the time. And we were all introduced one at a time,” Elena said. “We used to have all the other princesses, duchesses, and the queens there; and we used to have, visiting royalty. All the other schools would send their royalty. And we would send a visiting royalty to all the other schools out there, terrific dancers.”

During the earlier dances, it was tradition at the time for the queen to wear an all white dress. Even the girls that attended would wear dresses that matched the theme of the dance.

“The Queen would have to wear a white dress. And then we would have a theme, in my time it was blue Hawaii,” Elena said. “So they encouraged us, the girls, to wear blue or, you know, like colors to fit with the theme.”

Courtesy of the Tovar family
Elena Tovar (Ruiz) was El Paso High School’s Spring Fiesta Queen in 1964.

The selection process was based on the amount of votes given by the senior class, once votes were counted, the winners would be called to the Principal’s office in what Elena described as an exciting process.

“I remember we were called into the Principal’s office and that’s how I was told because I was never in the Principal’s office it was scary,” Elena said. “It was a scary thing, but that’s how they used to tell us. We were sitting there in the Principal’s office, and he would announce it over the PA system who had won. I never imagined that I would be the queen.”

Just like her grandmother, Mackenzie was taken by surprise when she found out that she was nominated as queen this year.

“I actually didn’t even know I was nominated for Spring Fiesta Queen,” Mackenzie said. “When I found out that I won, it was quite a surprise.”

Mackenzie said that she is honored that her peers voted her this year’s queen and loves representing EPHS.

“I think that it’s just another opportunity to be able to do my best to represent the school,” Mackenzie said. “It is what I really like to do and what I’ve tried to do throughout all of high school.”

Elena said that she is very proud of her granddaughter and that Mackenzie is able to create so many memorable experiences at the place she once attended.

“I’m very proud of her. She deserves it,” Elena said. “And of course, she’s so smart that you know she has so many accolades from El Paso High, she’s gonna have a lot of beautiful memories.”

Mackenzie is excited to attend her last Spring Fiesta and continue the tradition that she shares with her friends before going to the dance.

“I love Spring Fiesta. I actually have a tradition with my friends where we go to eat before, and then we go to Spring Fiesta every year and we always have a lot of fun,” Mackenzie said. “I’m going to miss being with my friends and dancing, and just the memories that we’ve made over the past three years here.”