Winter and the holiday season in some parts of country means lots of snow and a winter wonderland of Christmas lights and decorations. Carlsbad, on the other hand, usually has very little snow, but knows how to dazzle visitors and former residents who come home for the holidays.

Since 1991, homeowners living along the banks of the Pecos River have spent countless hours decorating their backyards with Christmas themes and spectacular lights that shimmer with color and reflect in the river on a crisp evening. The event, known as Christmas on the Pecos, has yet to disappoint those who have come from far and wide to spend about 40 minutes gliding down the river on pontoon boats to view the lighted homes.

Tickets go on sale Monday for Christmas on the Pecos tours that start the night of Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving, and end New Year's Day.

This year's Christmas on the Pecos is shaping up to be the best yet, according to Mike Calvani, chairman of the committee that helps adopt out houses for decoration.

"We have a lot of new homeowners along the river this year, and they will have new decorations," he said.

Calvani notes that each house is unique in the type of decorations and themes.

What do they get for putting on a fabulous Christmas light display that is kept up from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day? Not much more than the possibility of besting a neighbor and a sense of community pride.


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Calvani said Intrepid Potash is putting on a huge display on the north side of the city's picnic pavilions on the east bank of the river and directly behind the RiverBend retirement community.

"They have started building already, but we don't know what it is going to be. I do know there is going to be a lot of animation," Calvani said.

Lisa Boeke, chamber director for marketing, communications and tourism, said Intrepid is keeping the display under wraps.

"It's going to be a surprise for the community. It's going to be something new and fresh and we hope it will entice more people to participate in Christmas on the Pecos, whether they live here or come here specifically for the event," Boeke said.

Although individual tickets go on sale Monday, Boeke said group sales such as bus tours, have been ongoing since early this month.

"Last year, we had 56 bus tours from around the country," she said. "We think we might exceed last year's bus tour numbers. We are starting off well. We have three more bus tours booked than we did for the same period last year."

For the last 14 years, Christmas on the Pecos has been named as one of the top 100 must see events in North America by the American Bus Association.

This year, as in years past, the boats will depart from the Pecos River Village, located at 711 Muscatel Ave.

Boeke said ticket prices will remain the same as last year: $17.50 per person on Friday and Saturday; and $12.50 per person Sunday through Thursday. Children's tickets for ages 2 through 12 are $12.50 per child on Friday and Saturday.