Page 20

| S a n ta F e I n s t i t u t i o n s |

farolito walk

a holiday tradition to light your way by Z é l i e Pol lon


december 2011 /january 2012

Bonfires (below) and farolitos (above) illuminate Canyon Road on Christmas Eve.


There are few more picturesque scenes in Santa Fe—a town already full of captivating images—than its sinewy Eastside streets lit by thousands of small paper bags filled with sand and votive candles during the annual Farolito Walk, held on Christmas Eve. Beginning at dusk, the paths of light found along gallery walls, curving sidewalks, private gardens, and public courtyards lead evening farers down the main streets of Canyon Road and Acequia Madre, through cozy alleyways and meandering side streets, revealing along the journey beautiful bonfires, stands of hot cocoa and cider, and groups of carolers (sometimes strangers, all) sharing in the holiday spirit. The Walk, as it’s often called, remains one of Santa Fe’s most inclusive and family-friendly holiday events, bringing together every segment of the community to share in the wonder of light and cheer. From its humble beginnings in the late 1970s, when Eastside residents took to the streets to celebrate the successful rezoning of their neighborhood, the local tradition has gone on to see its attendance swell, drawing more than 30,000 participants to last year’s event. People in the crowds, using each other to stay warm in the crisp night air, slowly move en masse down the streets as part of an experience that, for a moment, draws us away from the consumerism often threatening to overtake this time of year. The Walk reminds us that beauty comes in the simplest of packages, and that gifts can be as unexpected as the offering of a hot beverage from a stranger just when you need it most. Even in this delicately lit constellation of Santa Fe streets, there are sights not to miss. At the Acequia Madre Elementary School, Avo Thompson launches flying farolitos—a fiery spectacle that draws crowds of delighted children. On Plaza Fatima, an offshoot of Delgado Street, an elaborate toy train lures revelers with its unexpected, high-pitched “choo” as it winds its way around a track in the center of the compound. When attending the Walk, it’s important to remember that all nonresident vehicular traffic is limited and must leave the Canyon Road area by 5 pm. Dress warmly, and be sure to wear your most comfortable walking shoes.