Candles will be flickering December 21 at Aztec Ruins National Monument when the park staff hosts a luminaria display with its Evening of Lights event.
Glowing luminarias will line the entry into the park as visitors arrive to view the brilliantly bedecked Visitor Center. The luminaria display will last from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and hot chocolate will be served. If you plan to attend, you're asked to park in the RV lot near the administration building and enjoy a short, beautiful walk to the Visitor Center.
A number of community organizations are helping make this evening possible. A group of Americorps volunteers are donating their time to fill luminaria bags with sand. Two classrooms with 42 students from Lydia Rippey Elementary School are walking over to finish preparing the bags. On the day of the event, the Aztec Kiwanis Club, Key Club, Builders Club, and JROTC are placing and lighting thousands of bags for the display.
Archaeoastronomical observation of the winter solstice is another highlight of the evening. Special guest G.B. Cornucopia will light up the night as he explains the setting of the winter solstice sun in alignment with the north wall of the West Ruin. All participants must be in the theater at 4:15 p.m. to be escorted into the site for solstice sunset.
Ranger-Astronomer Cornucopia coordinates the Chaco Canyon Night Sky program and will be offering a presentation titled The Worldwide History of Archaeoastronomy at 5:30 p.m. in the Visitor Center theater.
Afterwards, visit with rangers as you warm up inside the historic Visitor Center, once home of archaeologist Earl Morris, and peruse the Western National Parks Association Bookstore. The bookstore has acquired many new items in the last few months and will offer a 15 percent storewide sale all evening.