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Getting into the holiday spirit, Albuquerque style

Shotgun shell ristras hang in the Li'l Bit of This and That booth during Downtown Winterfest. As well as shopping, the event included the grand opening of Ice Qube, a synthetic ice rink, a beer garden and a showing of "A Christmas Story." (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Shotgun shell ristras hang in the Li’l Bit of This and That booth during Downtown Winterfest. As well as shopping, the event included the grand opening of Ice Qube, a synthetic ice rink, a beer garden and a showing of “A Christmas Story.” (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Families posed for photos under a 30-foot Christmas tree, shoppers purchased trinkets for loved ones and ice skaters milled around a rink as Albuquerque welcomed the holiday season with Downtown Winterfest on Saturday evening.

Noreen Horner and her daughter-in-law Tuesdy Horner sat at a table chatting as 7-year-old Aspen and 8-year-old Mason tried out the newly installed synthetic ice rink.

In town from New York City, Noreen Horner said the low-key festival, with its Christmas music and festive decor, was the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

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“Rockefeller is a bit bigger and a little more expensive, but the kids are having as much fun here as they are there,” she said. Entrance to the fair and rink was free, and ice skates rented for just $3.

Aspen, pausing for a break as she skated, told her mother that she loved the event and was having a wonderful time. Mason said that the synthetic ice required a bit of adjustment, but that he was enjoying himself, too.

“I’m glad we did this,” Noreen Horner said. “We would have been home watching football. This is much better.”

Dozens milled around the 20 or so booths set up around Civic Plaza, which offered an array of handcrafted items, including woodwork, soap, candles, ornaments and baked goods.

Anndria Cornish of Native Elements Jewels sat next to a booth near the rink, her handmade necklaces and earrings draped on elegant displays.

Cornish said it was nice to have an opportunity Downtown where small-business owners without storefronts could take advantage of the post-Thanksgiving holiday rush.

“I figured since it’s Small Business Saturday, why not be a part of it?” Cornish said. “It’s kind of fun, getting into the festive season.”

Jennifer Valenzuela brought her three daughters out Saturday afternoon. They planned to sip hot chocolate and watch an evening showing of “A Christmas Story” after her eldest daughters, ages 15 and 9, tried ice skating for the first time.

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Valenzuela and her 2-year-old daughter sat at a wooden table as the girls and their father made their way around the rink.

She said her daughters asked to come and she was glad to bring them.

“Anything to do to be outdoors,” Valenzuela said.

The Ice Qube rink is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 8 p.m. on weekends until school lets out. Then it will expand its hours to noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

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