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Celebrate the season: Rio Rancho’s Winterfest features ice skating, arts and crafts, photos with Santa

Skate into “Candy Land” during Winterfest in Rio Rancho.

The event, in its sixth year, takes place on Saturday, Dec. 16, in and around the Santa Ana Star Center. It will feature arts and crafts, free ice skating, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a Candy Land parade. Parents and guardians are asked to bring their own cameras or camera phones to take photos of their children with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

“Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there to take pictures with the kids,” said Connie Peterson, director of Rio Rancho Parks, Recreation and Community Services. “We’ll have our arts and crafts show, and then at the end of the evening it wraps up with the parade. It starts at 5:15. The skating is free to the public, and the skating runs from noon to 5 p.m. at the Santa Ana Star Center. We have about 300 pairs of skates in various sizes from youth to adult. We’ll have 45-minute sessions, and if we have low crowds, as long as we have skates, we’ll allow people to skate longer, but to start off with our intention is to run 45-minute sessions.”

While the kids are ice skating, parents and guardians can do some holiday shopping. About 40 arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares, including homemade ornaments, handmade quilts, photography, woodwork, and arts and crafts created from recycled materials. There also will be food vendors, and attendees are asked to bring nonperishable food items to be donated to Store House West and St. Felix Pantry.

The event will end with the Candy Land parade. Participants have been encouraged to create floats with a Candy Land theme and for them to be well-adorned with holiday lights. The parade entries will be judged by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services commissioners between 4 and 5 p.m. Plaques will be awarded to the winning groups that evening. Entries will be judged on appearance, originality and representation of the parade theme. Categories are Overall Winner – Crowd Favorite; Mayor’s Choice – Best Overall Presentation; Santa’s Choice – Best Representation of Parade Theme; Musical Marching – Best Marching Band; Non-Musical Marching – Best non-musical walking/marching/dancing; Most Spirited – Group displaying the most Holiday Spirit; Best Vehicle – Best decorated vehicle; and Most Original – Based on originality and uniqueness.

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