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Raton Holiday Traditions

by Patricia Duran

Raton is a small city in Northeastern New Mexico with a few unique hometown traditions at Christmas Time. Experiencing a Rocky Mountain Winter is certainly beautiful, but being in Raton is certainly nostalgic. Here is a list of some of our favorite Raton Holiday Traditions:

1. The City of Bethlehem

Back in the 1940s, the Lions Club began working on a project to paint and set up a nativity display called "The City of Bethlehem" in Raton. Over the years, citizens donated money to paint and construct multiple pieces describing the birth and story of Jesus.

The display is located in Climax Canyon. Climax Canyon is also decorated with angel displays descending down the mountain to the nativity scene. For years, Raton's citizens would take a trip up Apache Avenue, which is decorated with a cartoon character display for six blocks to view the Christmas display.

Everyone can enjoy the display from today to end of the Holiday season. I encourage everyone to wrangle the kids in the cars with hot cocoa for a short Christmas drive. Take your time on Apache Avenue pointing out your favorite Toyland Characters and reading the nativity story with your best cinematic voice!

2. Winter Wonderland

Every Friday after Thanksgiving, the Winter Wonderland display is set up for visitors to view a small-scale replica of Raton's Historic Downtown with an animated Santa sleigh, a choo choo train, and automobile.

The Winter Wonderland display is the brainchild of Virgil Buscarini. He later donated the display to the Raton MainStreet, and it is now set up at 145 S. 1st St.

As a child, I remember Mr. Buscarini’s display and being amazed to see snow coming down from the ceiling. Said snow was actually small pieces of plastic, but it was incredibly magical.

Buscarini donated his display to the Raton MainStreet, and it is now set up at 145 S. 1st St. This year, the Winter Wonderland will displayed for today only beginning after the Christmas Tree Lighting.

3. Festival of Lights

Every Friday after Thanksgiving is the Festival of Lights put on by Raton MainStreet and begins at 5:30 p.m. after the official Christmas tree lighting at Ripley Park. The sun sets around 4:42 p.m., and the tree will be lit as the sun falls below Goat Hill.

Afterwards, beginning at 5:30 p.m., enjoy stationary floats, shop downtown with the merchants, and visit the famous Winter Wonderland on First Street.

The festival will last until 8:00 p.m., so here's your chance to do some Black Friday shopping and fun with the family.

4. “A Christmas Carol” Performance

Every year before Christmas, the Shuler Theater puts on “A Christmas Carol” production. Multiple people have always mentioned the Scrooge is the best character because all he says is, “humbug.”

The best way to describe the production is through the quote of a little six-year-old. “They had a giant devil ghost that was ten-feet tall and had twenty-feet arms. There were also people speaking England.”

The cast is made up entirely of community members from multiple generations who have worked hard to put on one of the best theater productions in town.

Pro Tip: Always try to get your tickets early because the best seats in the house pack out quickly.

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