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Jemez holiday: ‘Light Among the Ruins’ brightens historic site with farolitos

Walk under the stars with traditional farolitos lighting the way through the historic San José de los Jémez Mission of Giusewa Pueblo during “Light Among the Ruins.”

The event on Saturday, Dec. 9, features about 1,500 farolitos, or luminarias, lining the ruins and the mission at the Jemez Historic Site.

Visitors to the historic ruins of Giusewa Pueblo and San José de los Jémez Mission Church at the Jemez Historic Site stroll among more than 1,000 farolitos outlining the ruins during “Light Among the Ruins” ushering in the holiday season north of Jemez Springs in 2016. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“(Guests) will walk toward the ruins there and San José de los Jémez Mission Church and the pathway, which is 1.5 miles,” said Erica Asmus-Otero, communications director for the Village of Jemez Springs. “Most of it is lit with the farolitos. My understanding is the pueblo had volunteers. The historic site gets volunteers who help out with the farolitos and lay them out, and then the Jemez Pueblo dancers will perform and play Native American music around the bonfire. It’s a spiritual event. It’s a great thing to see. It’s a very sensory experience.”

The event was born in 1996 when Tanya Struble got together with about 10 members of the community and put farolitos along the walkways of the Jemez State Monument, which is now the Jemez Historic Site. Struble has been on various community boards and involved in community organizations. She also co-owns the Jemez Hot Springs.

“The idea stemmed from a 1968 issue of New Mexico Magazine (Struble) came across about how Jemez Springs used to display handmade cutouts of Santa and the Nativity all over the village and around Soda Dam,” Asmus-Otero said. “She says she wanted to bring back that holiday tradition and had local artists make new cutouts.”

Dancers participate in the “Light Among the Ruins” near Jemez Springs. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“Light Among the Ruins” has grown bigger each year. Last year’s event welcomed 3,200 people. That is triple the amount of visitors it had usually gotten in the past, according to Asmus-Otero, who is expecting more this year.

Visitors can catch a complimentary shuttle to and from the site between 3 and 9 p.m. at Jemez Valley Community Park. Parking will be available at the park, with overflow parking nearby at the Jemez Valley Credit Union, Madonna Center and Jemez Plaza. Visitors are asked not to park along N.M. 4. Handicapped guests can park at the site.

More than 3,000 visitors attended the 2016 ‘Light Among the Ruins’ at the Jemez Historic Site. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The fun begins before the sun sets with the Public Academy of Performing Arts, which will play a free Christmas concert from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Center across from the Jemez Historic Site. Arts and crafts, and food vendors will be on hand beginning at 3 p.m. at the Jemez Valley Community Park. The Jemez Valley High School band will perform holiday songs intermittently from 5 to 7 p.m. Jemez Mountains Electric Co-op, which is an event sponsor, is helping take the chill out of the evening. It will have a “Warm Up Tent” equipped with heaters for guests to get warm while enjoying traditional Christmas songs.

New this year are the “Let Your Light Shine” glow-in-the-dark bracelets, provided by the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Buyers of bracelets will be served biscochitos and hot cocoa at the park. Bracelet holders also will receive flashlight key chains and a “Spring up to Jemez Springs” discount punch card. Bracelets are $2 for ages 13 and older. There are 1,000 bracelets available for purchase at the park starting at 3 p.m.

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