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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Holiday event set to light up NMSU campus once again

The 22 year-old New Mexico State University holiday tradition, Noche de Luminarias, or "Night of Lights," will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at Corbett Center.


During the event more than 6,000 luminarias will light Corbett Center, as well as surrounding areas. The event continues to be one of the largest holiday luminaria displays in southern New Mexico.

Activities scheduled for the event include caroling, rides in a horse-drawn trolley, and a visit with Santa Claus. A Polaroid picture opportunity with Santa Claus also will be available for $1. Musical entertainment will include Vista Vibrations, a handbell musical group from Vista Middle School; Ballet Kalpana, of Columbia Elementary School; NMSU DanceSport; and Scott Christensen, a singer/songwriter from Wichita, Kan. Holiday refreshments also will be served on levels one and two of Corbett Center.

"I cannot think of a better way to begin the holiday season than by walking around the campus, while engulfed in the warmth of light provided by the luminarias and listening to the sounds of caroling and children laughing," said Bruce Vandevender, assistant director of campus activities.

The NMSU Bookstore will also participate in the event by offering 20 percent off during their annual selected gifts sale. The creation of the luminarias, their set up on campus, and lighting will be done by the Las Cruces High School Band as a fundraising event.

"There is excitement everywhere during Noche de Luminarias. Somehow it magically transforms even the oldest person into a little kid," Vandevender said.

The tradition of lighting luminarias dates back to the early 16th century. Small fires called luminarias, also known as farolitos, the Spanish word for "little lanterns," were placed along roads and churchyards to commemorate the birth of Christ and to guide individuals to Midnight Mass. By the early 19th century, American settlers would hang Chinese lanterns from their doorways. Later the lanterns were found to be too expensive so many settlers began to burn candles buried in sand and placed in small paper sacks. Today, luminarias are placed throughout the Southwest as a symbol of hospitality and welcome to all who encounter them during the holiday season.

Sponsors for the Noche de Luminarias include the Union Program Council, Housing and Residential Life, Associated Students of NMSU Activities, the Corbett Center Student Union, and the NMSU President's Office.

For more information, contact the UPC office at 646-3200.