National parks, library will mark winter solstice

Aztec Ruins, Chaco Canyon and the Farmington Public Library will celebrate the shortest day of the year

Hannah Grover
Chaco Canyon’s Kin Kletso Great Kiva is seen during a winter solstice celebration at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

FARMINGTON — Wednesday will be the shortest day of the year, and several local sites will host events to celebrate the occasion.

Aztec Ruins National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the Farmington Public Library will all host solstice celebrations. During the solstice, sunlight will illuminate markers at each of the three locations.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday, park rangers at Aztec Ruins will lead visitors to the alignment locations to see sunlight hit the solstice marker. People who want to see the alignment should arrive by 4:30 p.m. on either day.

Danielle York, the lead interpretive ranger at Aztec Ruins, said visitors will stand along the north wall of the Aztec Great House and watch as the sun sets and aligns with the architecture.

"These alignments are very common at Great House sites," York said.

She said people who want to learn more about the alignments at ancestral Puebloan sites can attend ranger programs at 3:45 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. The programs include cookies, hot cocoa and presentations about Pueblo winter traditions, other similar solar alignments and December night sky astronomy.

Another opportunity to see a solar alignment will occur at sunrise Wednesday at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The park's gates will open at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, and visitors can meet at Kin Kletso to see the horizon marker for the winter solstice.

Library patrons on Dec. 22 walk past the winter solstice marker at the Farmington Public Library during the library's annual winter solstice celebration.

Ancestral Puebloan culture influenced the design of the Farmington Public Library, and each year, the library hosts a solstice celebration.

During the celebration, the library presents the "Let There Be Light" award to a community member who has been a supporter of the library.

This year, the library will present the award to Dale Anderson. Anderson has served on the library board for at least a decade and was the president of the board while the city was in the process of building the new library in the early 2000s. During that time, Anderson was among the people who took inventory of local petroglyphs and photographed the rock carvings.

Today, images of the petroglyphs can be seen throughout the library.

"I think it's made a big difference for the library and kind of gave it a timeless look," said Karen McPheeters, the library's director.

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