City works to keep holiday traditions alive during pandemic

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –  The holidays are quickly approaching and several popular Albuquerque events are already getting postponed or could look a lot different this year because of the pandemic. The city is trying to change up a few events to comply with the health order.

“[We’re] looking at how we can still have great things for families throughout the holiday season as well as support local businesses,” Bree Ortiz with the Cultural Services Department said.

Crews are already putting up the holiday decor at the Botanic Gardens in case the BioPark Society gets the green light to host the popular River of Lights. A spokesperson with the fundraising organization that holds the event said that while nothing is set in stone, the plan in motion includes an event with one-way walking paths and a significantly smaller capacity.

One Albuquerque man who said he’s been to more than a dozen River of Lights events said he thinks the BioPark Society can pull off the event safely. “Just the masks and social distancing. I think it’s pretty safe,” he said. “We have to keep going. Keep this economy going.”

Secondly, to avoid one large crowd for the tree lighting and shopping at the Old Town Holiday Stroll, the city said it’s been talking with Old Town businesses about hosting specials across several days over the holidays.

Next, the Twinkle Light parade along Central in Nob Hill is postponed until next year. That usually draws between 30,000 and 50,000 people and is a big boost for small businesses. But, the city is working on another idea.

“We are working with businesses along Route 66 to come up with different ideas of how we can support them and how we can offer different things for families in the community,” Ortiz added.

Additionally, changes are in the works for one of New Mexico’s oldest traditions, ABQ Ride’s Luminaria Tour through the Country Club neighborhood and Old Town. The Transit Department said if it can host the event, it won’t include people crowding at the Convention Center and on the tour buses.

“You can’t put a bunch of people on a bus and drive them around,” Ortiz stated. “That just isn’t something we can do right now, so we’re just keeping an eye on the public health order, seeing what’s allowed, following the rules and keeping people safe, but still keeping the holiday spirit alive.”

Another way New Mexicans can support local is through the city’s new virtual holiday market, called Albuquerque Gift Stop. People can buy from local vendors online, then pick up the purchases curbside at the Albuquerque Museum on Dec. 5.

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