Aztec Ruins to Host Evening of Lights
Contact: Visitor Center, 505-334-6174
Don't miss the annual Evening of Lights at Aztec Ruins, featuring a winter solstice alignment, 2000 glowing luminarias, and holiday treats. The free event will be Wednesday, December 19, 2012 from 4:30-8:00pm at Aztec Ruins National Monument.
The evening begins with storytelling at 4:30pm in the Great Kiva. At 4:45pm rangers will lead visitors to the winter solstice marker. For this special off-trail walk you must be escorted by a ranger; please arrive on-time, wear sturdy walking shoes, and bring a flashlight. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and marks the official start of winter. It is still an important time of ceremony for many Native American people.
As the sun goes down at 5:00pm, 2000 luminarias will light the historic Visitor Center district. Hot cocoa and cookies will be served by the Friends of Aztec Ruins, and the Western National Parks Association bookstore will stay open late for holiday shopping. The park will be open for regular visitor hours 8am to 5pm. Event hours will be 5pm to 8pm. Local students are helping to fill, place, and light the luminarias.
Volunteers are coming from Lydia Rippey Elementary and Aztec, Farmington, and Bloomfield High Schools. The public is welcome to come collect luminaria bags the following day (December 20) to recycle in another display.
The bookstore has lots of great new merchandise this year, including jewelry, Zuni fetishes, and children's books. You can read about how the ancestral Pueblo people marked the winter solstice; Western National Parks Association bookstore at the park sells two books and two videos on ancestral Pueblo archaeoastronomy. A portion of all book sales in the non-profit organization's stores go right back to the park, and other proceeds are used for research and publications. For example, the bookstore helped fund Junior Ranger camps at Aztec Ruins last summer.
Note: If you would like to see the winter solstice alignment, you must be at the Great Kiva for the talk at 4:30pm or at the park's Visitor Center no later than 4:45pm. Arrive anytime between 5:00-8:00pm to enjoy the luminarias.
Did You Know?
The Visitor Center was once the home of Earl Halstead Morris, the archeologist who first excavated Aztec Ruins. He recycled some original timbers from the ruins in the building. You can still see some of these beams in the ceiling.