Old Town says goodbye to iconic holiday tradition

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Old Town Holiday Stroll is just a few days away, and this year people will bid farewell to a familiar sight, Henry’s tree. KRQE News 13 spoke with the new owner of Plaza Don Luis about what’s next.


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It’s a tradition dating back nearly three decades, but this Friday will be the last time Henry’s tree will be lit in Plaza Don Luis. The tree is named after Henry Aceves who started the tradition in 1994. He also owned the Old Town Basket and Rug Shop.

His family has since taken over the task, including his daughter, Ashley. “We all get together, We all take the trip up to northern New Mexico to get the trees. We come back into town, trim them up and get them ready to actually put in the metal structure,” Ashley Aceves said.

But now the basket shop is Noisy Water Winery, and the new owners of Plaza Don Luis have different plans for the holidays. “I just physically want to change out 50-year-old infrastructure where you’re cutting down 150 trees for something a little more sustainable and a little safer,” said owner Jasper Riddle.

While it’s not certain what next year will look like, he promises it will still be festive. “We want to take what has been more or less the exact same celebration year after year, and just make it more grand and diversify it a little bit. Maybe spread it out over the course of the whole month,” Riddle said.

As for the tree itself, they are still weighing the options. “I think one big tree or the faux tree is where we’re looking at. But we want to talk to the National Forest Service about that,” Riddle said.

However, those who have made the tree lighting a tradition say they are sad to see the tree they’ve come to know and love, go. “That’s disappointing because it’s something that we really enjoy looking at,” said resident Pam Williams.

“Those traditions are hard to let go of. When you’ve grown up with them and as many of us have here in Albuquerque. So I hope that they replace it with something that will be just as intriguing and memorable,” said resident John Robb.

That’s something Riddle says he understands but believes people will enjoy what’s coming next. “I don’t think they’re going to be mad at me next year. I get the change is scary for some but I think when people see and understand what we’ve had to deal with and what it takes to put it together as it is now. It’s a change that probably has to happen,” Riddle said.

Aceves’ daughter says she hopes people will support Riddle’s vision. “Whatever they come up with, we know that it’s going to be amazing and we want Albuquerque to support that,” Ashley said.

Aceves says she hopes to find a new home for the tree stand. KRQE News 13 reached out to the City Department of Arts and Culture about the change. They say in part, they will continue organizing the Old Town Holiday Stroll, and they appreciate the Aceves family for sharing Henry’s legacy with us over the years.

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