Updated: Thursday, 24 Dec 2009, 7:06 PM MST
Published : Thursday, 24 Dec 2009, 6:50 PM MST
ALBUQUERQUE(KRQE) - Generations of luminaria stuffers were hard at work long before the people-packed buses, slow-moving cars and bundled-up strollers made their way to Albuquerque's 2009 Luminaria tour.
Ed Burch said it's as traditional for his family as Santa Claus.
"We did it when we were little, and now our kids' kids are doing it," Burch told KRQE News 13.
This year the Burch family sent out its third generation of luminaria stuffers. The kids no more than 10 years old sat in the back of a truck and scooping up cup after cup of sand.
"Last year we did this," Jose, 8, said as he shoveled sand into a waiting bag. "So I know how to do it really well."
Just across the street, the Burch's neighbor opted to pay someone to do the knee-bending work.
That's where Rich MacKaren comes in. He and his two helpers filled nearly 400 brown bags Thursday morning.
"We have some good workers here, some hard workers," MacKaren said. "They'll get it done in a short while."
MacKaren has been setting up luminarias for 10 years and said in that time he's learned a thing or two about getting the job done.
"Probably the best way is to fold them first and fill them out here," MacKaren said.
No matter how or who fills them, keeping up with traditions is a tough job, and these families said somebody has to do it.
For another year the ABQ Ride bus ride tours of the Albuquerque Country Club neighborhood and Old Town were sold out.
Luminarias, or farolitos, if you prefer, are an old New Mexico tradition lighting the way for the Christ child to find the homes of the faithful.