Students from Farmington elementary schools fill bags on Tuesday with sand and candles for the annual luminarias display at San Juan College. The
Students from Farmington elementary schools fill bags on Tuesday with sand and candles for the annual luminarias display at San Juan College. The luminarias will be lit on Saturday. (Courtesy of San Juan College)

FARMINGTON — Just in time for the holidays, luminaria displays will light up several spots in the Four Corners.

In Farmington, luminarias -- small paper lanterns that hold candles -- will illuminate Friday's Riverglo, and another luminaria display will be at San Juan College on Saturday. On Dec. 19, luminarias will also light up the Aztec Ruins National Monument.

The oldest of these annual events is the San Juan College display, which is celebrating its 35th year.

Community members can drive or walk through the display on Saturday evening. The walk-through begins at 5 p.m. and driving opens at 6 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m. in the college's Learning Commons Plaza, attendees can enjoy music performed by the college's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Student Association. The San Juan College Planetarium will also host a star gaze from 6 to 9 p.m. in the inner courtyard.

The college's display is the largest luminaria display run by a nonprofit in New Mexico. It features nearly 40,000 hand-lit candles.

While not as large as the college's display, Riverglo, boasting about 1,800 luminarias, provides a much different experience.

Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, Riverglo stretches from Archway Court to Courtyard by Marriott in Berg Park. Parking is available off San Juan Boulevard.

Over the course of the walk, people can enjoy three bonfires, see Santa Claus and listen to music from various local groups, including Ladera Elementary School students, the San Juan College Christmas Choir, the Farmington High School Christmas Choir and Orchestral Group, and the Four Corners Harmony and Barbershop Chorus. Northside Church of Christ will put on a live nativity from 6 to 8 p.m.

The River Reach Foundation started Riverglo in 1998. Bob Lehmer, the chairman of the nonprofit foundation, said it's a serene, peaceful environment.

Mario Barela gets a candle for his luminaria on Tuesday at San Juan College in Farmington.
Mario Barela gets a candle for his luminaria on Tuesday at San Juan College in Farmington. (Courtesy of San Juan College)

"It's a beautiful setting along the river," he said.

The area's final luminaria display -- Aztec Ruins' Evening of Lights -- is scheduled in conjunction with the winter solstice, which occurs on Dec. 21. Attendees who arrive by 4:45 p.m. Dec. 19 will see the winter solstice alignment. After that, the national monument will display luminarias and lanterns.

The solstice alignment occurs at special solar and lunar markings found throughout the ruins. Ancestral Puebloan people used the markers to keep ritual calendars.

Evening of Lights also includes cultural demonstrations, such as Acoma Pueblo potters Florinda and Lee Vallo and Navajo silversmithing by Phyllis Etcitty.

IF YOU GO

What: Riverglo

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Berg Park, 400 Scott Ave., Farmington. Parking available off San Juan Boulevard.



What: San Juan College Luminaria display

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd., Farmington



What: Evening of Lights

When: 4:45 p.m. Dec. 19

Where: Aztec Ruins National Monument, 84 County Road 2900, Aztec

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.