Thousands of people showed up Monday night on Canyon Road and in adjacent neighborhoods to stroll, sing and gaze at the candle-lit paper bags called farolitos decorating homes, businesses and streets, and the pitchwood bonfires known as luminarias merrily burning in the district. Rows of electrified farolitos and strings of colored Christmas lights added to the magic.
This Christmas Eve’s Canyon Road Farolito Walk, an event that originated in the late 1970s, began with snowflakes blowing in the air. But temperatures remained mild and by early evening, the moon broke through the cloud cover. Church bells rang, joggers sang carols and policemen patrolled on loud all-terrain vehicles.
“There’s more farolitos out sooner than in past years,” observed Dallas Bishoff as he and his wife, Patricia Bishoff, guided their two foxhounds, Ellie May and Cosmo, through the crowd. Cosmo wore a festive blinking-light collar.
“We moved here in 2009 and we’ve been coming every year,” Patricia Bishoff said. “We try to get here early because of the dogs. They take up so much room.”
At their Arroyo Gallery, Jim and Elizabeth McGorty were busy well before 5 p.m. putting up farolitos and luminarias near the corner of Canyon Road and Paseo de Peralta.
“My family has had this since 1968,” Elizabeth McGorty said. “My mother [Hilda Street] was instrumental in the first farolito walk when it was [started] by the neighborhood association.”
A little farther up Canyon Road, Jean-Jacques DeSalle stoked a bonfire on the pavement outside his Café des Artistes, where he served hot chocolate and cider.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” he said. “It’s been going on much longer than that … but I’m getting some seniority.”
DeSalle said the main change he’s observed in the Farolito Walk over a decade is “more people trying to commercialize the place. We wanted to keep this family feeling, you know, and make sure it’s not all about money.”
Farther up the road, Cindy Barreras served free homemade posole, tamales and Mexican hot chocolate at Cafe Greco, which Michael and Rita Linder opened about a year ago.
Susan Woodburn and Lynn Daniel, who spend half the year in Santa Fe and half in San Diego, Calif., said this is the second time they’ve done the Farolito Walk. They were particularly impressed by the wind-sculpture display at the Wiford Gallery.
“That was beautiful with the lights in there and the wind sculptures going and the fires,” said Daniel. “It’s just a spiritual-type feeling.”
At the corner of Canyon Road and Delgado Street, a three-person band performed “We Three Kings” near a cart with free mistletoe. Allison Smith played a frame drum called a tar; Jess Graham played a metal drum called a dumbek; and Hunter Eagle played a penny-whistle flute.
“I’ve been doing this on and off for 50 years,” said Eagle, who said he picked the mistletoe near Socorro and decided to give it away as a holiday gesture.
Ian Davis and Elizabeth Harbour, who both grew up in Santa Fe, did the walk quickly this year, finishing before 6 p.m.
Davis didn’t hesitate when asked what was different this year. “Less singers, less snow,” he said.
Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or email@example.com.