Aztec celebrates holidays with three-day event

The annual event starts Thursday and continues through Saturday

Hannah Grover
hgrover@daily-times.com
Ornaments hang on a tree at Minium Park in Aztec, which kicks off its annual Aztec Sparkles celebration on Thursday.

FARMINGTON — A three-day holiday celebration will provide family-friendly fun this week in Aztec.

Aztec Sparkles, a citywide holiday celebration, combines a parade with holiday carnivals, live music, theater, hay rides and other festivities.

The celebration began in 2014 after Commissioner Katee McClure proposed a holiday lighting contest shortly after she was elected. The contest pits businesses against each other for the best display.

The lighting contest began last week and will continue throughout the month. While last year's contest featured 17 businesses, only about 10 businesses signed up for this year's contest, McClure said.

"Hopefully, a lot of people will light up anyways, even if they did not sign up," she said.

She said a panel of judges will determine the winners.

"I just love the holiday lights anyways," McClure said. "It doesn't matter what religion you are or no religion. It's just so festive."

Aztec Ruins National Monument will kick off the three-day celebration with its annual Evening of Lights from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Aztec High School's Playmakers will perform "The Snow Queen" at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Aztec High School multipurpose room. "The Snow Queen" is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale that inspired Disney's popular movie "Frozen."

Luminarias light up the entrance to Aztec Ruins National Monument on Dec. 11, 2014, during the Evening of Lights.

Several Aztec venues will also have holiday celebrations and carnivals. The list includes the Aztec Public Library and the Aztec Boys & Girls Clubs. The library will have a celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, and the Boys & Girls Clubs will present a holiday carnival from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday.

The majority of events will take place on Saturday, starting with a cookie walk from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Aztec Presbyterian Church, 205 N. Church Ave., and the arts and crafts fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aztec Senior-Community Center, 101 S. Park Ave.

"This year, we are going to have a DJ playing music pretty much all day," said Annette Davis, treasurer of Aztec Chamber of Commerce, which organizes Aztec Sparkles. The DJ will play music in downtown Aztec.

One of the purposes of Aztec Sparkles is to showcase the vacant buildings on Main Avenue, according to Davis. The chamber hopes to generate interest in the buildings and attract new businesses.

During Aztec Sparkles, vendors set up in the empty buildings, and many businesses that are typically closed on Saturdays will be open. Businesses and vendors will open at 10 a.m.

"Pretty much everything we have is free," Davis said.

She said one exception is the Santa Dash 5K, put on in conjunction with Aztec Trails and Open Spaces. The race starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at City Hall, 201 Chaco St. Registration is $30 per person or $75 for a family of four. People can register at eventbrite.com or at City Hall on race day.

Another highlight of Aztec Sparkles is the hay wagon rides, which start at noon at the intersection of Main Avenue and Chaco Street. The rides will take people past the antique trucks and tractors mini show, which goes from noon to 5 p.m. on Chaco Street.

The events conclude with the Aztec Sparkles Light Parade at 6 p.m. on Main Avenue and the Levi Platero Band performing at 7:30 p.m. at Crash Music at the Aztec Theater, 104 N. Main Ave.

While the entries for the lighting contest are down this year, Davis said there have been more entries for the light parade.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.