Noche de Luminarias brings out NMSU community despite gloomy weather


Leah De La Torre

A couple walks the illuminated pathway near Garcia Hall during Sunday’s Noche De Luminarias event on Dec. 4, 2022.

Noche de Luminarias is an annual NMSU tradition where luminarias, paper bag lanterns filled with sand and a candle, light up the campus and bring out students and the Las Cruces community to celebrate the holidays. This year, it occurred on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Many showed up for the festivities but one thing was different about this year’s annual tradition— the rain.

Despite the rain putting out most of the luminarias, people’s spirits stayed on fire with Christmas joy and they managed to still have a fun time. One could imagine these luminarias look a little more like misshapen lumps rather than beautiful lights.

“For some people, the rain will hinder them because they don’t like to get rained on but I feel like the spirit’s still there,”  said a community member who was walking the luminaria path. 

Another community member said that she used to attend Noche de Luminarias when she was younger and it’s nice that NMSU has an event that includes the whole community.

“When I saw the luminarias were being done again I was really excited. I did this as a younger girl and it was great getting to reminisce,” she said.

Jamie Casey, another community member, said it was her first time attending Noche and she was glad to be there despite the on-and-off rain.

“I think [the rain] probably deterred some people from coming but overall it’s still a cool event.  The luminarias are just really pretty and everyone seems to be in the Christmas spirit out here, which is kind of fun anyway,” Casey said.

The festivities began in Corbett Center, with letter writing to Santa and Christmas cookie decorating, as well as free beverages being handed out. After exiting the doors of Corbett, festival-goers could see an endless line of luminarias.

Community members stand around waiting for free hot chocolate and cider from Tom’s Coffee during Noche de Luminarias on Dec. 4, 2022. (Leah De La Torre)

Sodexo was responsible for the free beverages and cookie decorating at Corbett Center.  Michael Miller, who works for Sodexo, said that they have been contributing food and drinks every year since he’s worked there.

“I’ve been working for [Sodexo] for almost 25 years and we’ve [contributed to this event] every year since I’ve worked here,” Miller said.

Miller said that his favorite part about contributing to Noche is getting to see everyone take part in all the different activities and have fun as a community.

“The coolest part of this event is that everyone in the whole community has the chance to enjoy themselves and all the activities that were planned for tonight,” Miller said.

One path of these beautiful lanterns led to the bookstore, where families could take their kids to get pictures with Santa.  Bookstore manager Collin King explained that the bookstore has allowed SILP to use its facilities since at least 2014, if not for more years.

“We usually do some kind of a cafe deal and then as an appreciation of the campus we do 20% off of all of the items that have the NMSU logo on it, to get school spirit up and all that kind of stuff,” King said.

King expressed that the general idea of Noche has always been to thank the current students and faculty for a great year, but then to also open up campus to the community.

“I think it’s awesome that we’re able to bring in and welcome the community and do an awesome combined event like [Noche], so I really enjoy it,” King said.

King said that this isn’t the first time that bad weather has happened during Noche. He explained that in past years, temperatures were colder with snow on the ground. 

“It was really cold last year and there was one year where it snowed but it seems like no matter what the weather is, we end up pulling it off,” King said.

Michelle Grandjean is the SILP program specialist and she was in charge of planning Noche this year.  She said that she thinks Noche de Luminarias was still successful besides the rainy weather.

The glow from the luminarias was not as bright as it would have been without the rain, however, the activities still went on as planned and I think those who came out enjoyed the event,” Grandjean said.

Grandjean expressed that she always loves having events like Noche to bring the university and the Las Cruces community together.

“It is always wonderful to see the community come onto our beautiful campus and enjoy an NMSU tradition,” Grandjean said. “I grew up coming to Noche de Luminarias every year and I enjoy seeing this be an event that draws the community in.”


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