November 19, 2010 by Kristina Medley, NMSU News Center
Five thousand luminarias will brighten New Mexico State University’s Las Cruces campus during the 26th annual “Noche de Luminarias” from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.
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. Las Cruces High School Band members will set up the display.
“Noche de Luminarias,” or “Night of Lights,” is a NMSU tradition which began in 1984 as a holiday celebration for the university president.
“The goal is for NMSU students and the Las Cruces community to enjoy the peaceful lights and entertainment before we get into all of the rush of the holiday season,” said Maria Ration, Associated Students of NMSU assistant director of activities for Corbett Center.
NMSU’s 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 a gospel choir will also perform at the event.
Visitors can enjoy trolley rides around the luminaria route from Frontier Adventures, and the NMSU Barnes & Noble Bookstore will be open during the event. Refreshments will also be provided.
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 primarily sponsored by ASNMSU, with contributions from Corbett Center, Campus Activities and Aramark. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact ASNMSU at 575-646-4415.