ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The River of Lights is in its 25th year at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden. Last year, the River of Lights set a record with 130,000 guests, up from 100,000 from its humble beginning in 1997.
Albuquerque Mayor Jim Baca had the honor in 1997 to kick off the first-ever River of Lights Holiday Light Festival. Back then, they had to rent sculptures from a company in New York. “And I think they paid about $80,000 to do that. And we got about 30 displays, nowhere near as neat as what we have,” said Julie Miller Rugg, New Mexico BioPark Society Executive Director.
The cost to get in was $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. The next year, the River of Lights crew decided to go bigger and made about 50 sculptures. “The 3D really came about as we were growing. We thought, why can’t we make these in 3D? There’s got to be a way to do it,” said Miller Rugg.
By 2010, they were up to more than 100 sculptures. Twenty-five years later, the event is New Mexico’s biggest holiday light display, with more than 600 sculptures.
The River of Lights is from November 26 to December 30. Tickets can be found here.