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'Noche de Luminarias' brightens NMSU for 27th consecutive year

Five thousand luminarias will brighten the New Mexico State University campus during the 27th annual "Noche de Luminarias" at 6 p.m. Dec. 4.

A photo of luminarias in front of Corbett Center at NMSU.
Luminarias will illuminate the New Mexico State University Las Cruces campus for the 27th annual "Noche de Luminarias" at 6 p.m. Dec. 4. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips).

One of the largest displays in New Mexico, the luminarias will illuminate walkways and buildings beginning at the Educational Services Center on the east end of campus, wrapping around the duck pond and down the International Mall surrounding Corbett Center Student Union. "Noche de Luminarias," or "Night of Lights," began in 1984 as a holiday celebration for the university president.

"The event is a NMSU tradition and a great way to start the holiday season," said Colleen Cassadas, Associated Students of NMSU assistant director of activities for Corbett Center. "It is especially a good opportunity for international students and people from other states to share a New Mexico tradition."

The NMSU Dance Sport team will perform at Crossroads inside Corbett Center during "Noche de Luminarias." The Vista Vibrations of Vista Middle School will entertain attendees with hand bells and holiday music inside Corbett Center, and the NMSU Gospel Choir also will perform at the event.

Visitors can enjoy trolley rides around the luminaria route from Frontier Adventures. NMSU student organizations will share information about their organizations and what the holidays mean to them in front of the former Barnes & Noble Bookstore on the west end of Corbett Center. Santa Claus will visit the event, and refreshments also will be served.

"Noche de Luminarias is a good way for the community to experience holiday cheer at NMSU," Cassadas said.

The tradition of luminarias, also known as "farolitos" or "little lanterns," originated in the 16th century as a Spanish tradition of lighting small bonfires along the roads and churchyards to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and to guide people to Midnight Mass. In the early 19th century, U.S. settlers on the Santa Fe Trail brought Chinese paper lanterns to illuminate their entryways. They were beautiful but expensive, and eventually, the paper bag version became the tradition.

Noche de Luminarias is sponsored by ASNMSU, Corbett Center and Campus Activities. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact ASNMSU at 575-646-4415.