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Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024
Mark your calendars and join the staff of Carlsbad Caverns National Park for the 49th annual Bat Flight Breakfast and 2nd annual Celebration of the Night!
This year’s Celebration of the Night! star party will begin the evening of July 28 and continue into the early morning hours of July 29. The Bat Flight Breakfast follows the star party, beginning at 5 a.m., Saturday morning.
Historically held the second Thursday in August, the park broke with tradition in 2005 and moved the breakfast to a Saturday in an effort to encourage more participation. This year, park staff moved both events to July and selected a weekend night optimal for night-sky viewing.
“We got an amazing response last year from Carlsbad residents and visitors,” said Avelina Childress, coordinator for the Bat Flight Breakfast. “Many people have said to us in the past ‘If you only had it on a weekend.’ Well, last year, we moved it to a weekend and we doubled the number of people at the breakfast. I’d call that a success!”
Shannan Marcak, the star party’s coordinator, said, “Moving the star party to the end of July, just after the New Moon, will hopefully move us out of the monsoon season and give us good night-sky viewing opportunities.”
Activities will begin at dusk, on Friday, July 28, with the evening’s Bat Flight program, where visitors watch as an estimated 400,000 Mexican free-tailed bats exit Carlsbad Cavern in search of their favorite meal—insects! The bat colony is capable of eating tons of insects a night.
The star party starts at 9:30 p.m. after the Bat Flight program. Telescopes will be provided, but visitors may want to bring their own binoculars, flashlights and lawn chairs. Star party programming will end at 3 a.m. just in time for a nature walk before an early-morning breakfast.
The Bat Flight Breakfast began in the late 1950s as a way to encourage visitors to see the bats’ morning return flight. Unlike the shorter nighttime exodus out of the cave when the bats spiral up and leave the cave, the sunrise return to the cave normally spans several hours.
The breakfast—$7 for adults and $3 for children age 12 and under—includes cereal; ham, turkey and cheese croissants; yogurt and fruit; and juice, milk and coffee. The price includes free entrance to the self-guided portions of Carlsbad Cavern. Tickets for the Bat Flight Breakfast may be purchased during the star party or at the breakfast.
The annual breakfast is sponsored by the Carlsbad Caverns Activity Association and Cavern Supply Company in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Carlsbad Caverns Guadalupe Mountains Association.
Overnight camping will be allowed; however, space is extremely limited. Tent and car campers will be limited to two parking spaces and all vehicles will be limited to a 35-foot-length, including vehicles in tow.
Reservations are not accepted for the star party or the Bat Flight Breakfast. Astronomers planning to bring telescopes or other equipment to the star party should contact Shannan Marcak at 505.785.3134.
For Bat Flight Breakfast information, contact Avelina Childress at 505.785.3124 or Bridget Litten at 505.785.3024, or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cave/.
More detailed breakfast and star party information will be forthcoming in June.