ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The artists and craftsmen behind the displays at River of Lights work year-round, creating and building new sculptures. One of their goals is to make the event look different each year.
Even though it’s a new holiday season, the work stays the same for the River of Lights crew. “I get stressed about this time right now,” said Jacob, one of the many River of Lights workers. “It’s a little stressful thing right about now, just the closer we get.”
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Jacob says this year, they had to do a lot of maintenance on the sculptures with light. “We had to redo them that some of them got bent out of shape so we did a lot of fixing this year.”
Every year, the team discusses placement and how to expand. “We’ll just walk around and talk about it,” said Jacob.
One of their biggest displays, Africa, started out with a flat elephant panel. “From that one, we just started growing and growing, and we saw how big the park was,” Jacob says. “The grass area out there for just a couple of panels, and there’s still a whole lot of room, so we figured we could make this a big ol’ scene.”
Jacob says this year, there are even more new pieces on the way. He says most of the designs start from a tiny toy and a little inspiration from the ABQ BioPark Zoo.
The process can turn pieces of pencil rod metal into a life-sized giraffe and more. “I thought it was going to be really easy to do that, but it was the hardest one I’ve made so far,” said Jacob. “I made some 3D swans that we’re going to set on the lake.”
But to see the true magic of the displays, you’ll have to visit. Crews have to run more than 10 miles of extension cords to make it all happen. They also go through about 100,000 zip ties and 30,000 rolls of electrical tape.
Also, the miles and miles of twinkle lights that are scattered through the garden are enough to stretch from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The River of Lights is from November 26 to December 30. Tickets can be found here.