ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While the River of Lights opens on Nov. 27, the setup begins months earlier. It takes a lot of hard work and teamwork to set up the massive light displays. While the three-man crew works year-round, ten more seasonal workers are hired to help in September. “We just get all the sculptures and we set them up. It’s pretty heavy work,” said Jacob Chavez, a seasonal worker. “Some days we do something called ‘twinkling’ and that’s when we set up the lights around the trees.”
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The River of Lights crew also works closely with the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden’s horticulture team. They negotiate to find the best spots for sculptures.
Everything looked much different when the 36-acre facility opened in 1996. As the garden grows, it dictates where the team can put up displays. Since they don’t want to damage plants, some of the displays had to be moved completely.
Another challenge they’ve faced this year is the warmer weather. Since the weather has stayed warmer longer, they can’t go into some of the garden areas because the flowers are still in bloom.
However, despite nature’s hardships, the crew will have everything done before Nov. 27. The River of Lights runs from Nov. 27 – Dec. 30 (closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25). Tickets will be sold in limited quantities and online only.