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With Thanksgiving in a few days, that can only mean one thing: The year is diving headlong into the holiday season.
Various area communities are gearing up for some festive activities to welcome in this special time of year.
Here is a sampling of some of the tree-lighting activities and other holiday events coming up soon.
Friday, Nov. 29, marks the start of the Christmas season in the Capital City as the Plaza turns into a glowing attraction.
“At sunset, about 4:30 this year, we start the farolitos, about 1,000 farolitos around the outer perimeter of the Plaza,” said Carlos Sanchez, city marketing and special events administrator.”
The event actually starts about 3 p.m. as local groups pass out cookies and hot chocolate and local musical groups play at the bandstand. About 4 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive, receiving Christmas wishes from children.
“About 6 p.m. we have the mayor’s address and the countdown of the lights,” Sanchez said. “It’s a huge countdown for everybody, and then the lights go live on the Plaza trees. It’s pretty much a beautiful spectacle.”
Thanksgiving evening the lights come aglow at Brandenburg Park at 7 p.m., accompanied by Christmas caroling, cocoa, cider, cookies and Santa Claus. It’s the day after the ski area opens, and everything is in a fun mood around the town, said April Ralph, town tourism and economic director.
“It’s a super-fun event and it has been popular for years,” she said “The park is all decorated, all the trees are decorated. It’s a big deal.”
And on Friday comes one of the truly unique events with the annual frozen turkey race.
“It is a hoot,” Ralph said. They race on the beginner hill with frozen turkeys. You get your turkey up to starting point then you sit on it and go down. It’s so much fun.”
Several years ago, the ski area bought too many turkeys for Thanksgiving, so it decided to have some fun with the remaining ones before using them, she said. The turkeys are provided for the all-ages event.
Santa rides the Rail Runner from Belen to Los Lunas with elementary students from the town’s after-school program, creating a mini Polar Express, said Los Lunas recreation supervisor Marcos Castillo.
The Dec. 13 train ride starts the day’s festivities, which include free hot chocolate, cotton candy and visits with Santa at Los Lunas Transportation Center.
“We get a big tree from the mountains that we put up in the Plaza. Last year, it was a 45-foot tree,” Castillo said. “Then we do a tree lighting. It’s a lot of fun.”
Events in Los Lunas actually begin a week earlier, with a Dec. 7 Christmas parade.
The event draws more than 100 entries, including the local fire departments, law enforcement agencies, high school athletic teams, churches and businesses all competing for the prestigious prize as the best-decorated entry.
The parade starts at 6 p.m. at Daniel Fernandez Park and goes about 2.5 miles though town, taking about two hours for the all glittering, lighted vehicles to pass, Castillo said.
“It’s really very well-attended,” he said. “It’s a big event for us.”
WinterFest Weekend, Dec. 6-8, is a family-oriented holiday event that celebrates the winter season.
A number of businesses and organizations host events including the North Pole Workshop and Breakfast with Santa. The Fuller Lodge Open House and the Earth Treasure Show always draw crowds.
The highlights of the weekend are the MainStreet Holiday Lights Parade and the Tree Lighting at Ashley Pond on Dec. 7.
This season, the popular “Light Among the Ruins” glow at the Giusewa Pueblo and San José de los Jemez Mission will be featured twice — on Saturday, Nov. 30 and again on Dec. 14.
More than 1,400 farolitos spread their soft luminescent glow across the 500-year-old village and on the 1,400 foot interpretive trail ruins that includes the 16th century Jemez church.
Although the celebration begins at 3 p.m at nearby Jemez Valley Community Park with vendors and caroling, Native American dancers will perform in the evening at the ruins, the tableau lit by a pair of large bonfires.