There are approximately 30 – 35 floats this year for the parade, which is about the same as last year. Applications for entry into the parade are still being accepted, but there is a late fee. First, second and third place floats traditionally have been the same three companies, just in different order. According to Sandy Aguilar, “There is a friendly rivalry developing between the floats produced by Inn of the Mountain Gods, Zia Natural Gas and City Bank. Last year, Inn of the Mountain Gods took first place.”
“The main purpose of the Festival of Lights is to advertise to visitors that Ruidoso [and surrounding areas] has more going on during the holidays and to create a festive atmosphere for residents,” said Sandy Aguilar, Executive Director of the Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Ruidoso is without a doubt one of the most festive places to be during the holidays.”
In 2008, two important things happened. One, the Chamber officially took on the role of managing the marketing of the Festival of Lights, and secondly, the American Bus Association voted Ruidoso as one of the top lighted parades in the country. Aguilar said, “As part of our marketing plan, the Chamber paid for radio promotion in El Paso targeting the 18-45 audience, including Ft. Bliss troops. With the assistance of the Ruidoso Tourism Department, The Chamber also produced several billboards in Albuquerque. Nine digital images rotate on four separate boards in high traffic areas. Two of the boards feature the Parade of Lights Grand Marshal, Steve Stucker of KOB Eyewitness News 4 and two of the boards show Ski Apache’s incredible skiing opportunities. The remaining boards highlight some of the major events during Festival of Lights.”
Skiing is a staple for Ruidoso and it will continue to be a cornerstone of any winter promotions. Chamber Member, Ron Andersen of Wild West Ski Shop said, “Here in the Southwest we are blessed with some of the best snowboarding and skiing weather anywhere in the world. The snowfall in the Southwest varies each year, but with snowmaking you can still enjoy the winter season.”
The advertising of the Ruidoso Festival of Lights as a winter destination is also promoted through the Festival’s partners. The Ruidoso Valley Greeters produced newspaper and print advertising and Spencer Theater provided Internet marketing. 15,000 rack cards were distributed throughout Albuquerque, Southeastern NM and West Texas and were included in direct mail to targeted customers. Regional radio on MTD stations hit the 4-hour drive market. This advertising supplements the broader and further reaching scope of the Ruidoso Tourism Department.
The Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce would like to thank event sponsors including: The New Mexico Tourism Department, Ruidoso Valley Greeters, Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts, Condotel, The Lodge at Sierra Blanca, Inn of the Mountain Gods, PNM, Zia Natural Gas, and The Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino. Grants also come in the form of the Ruidoso and Lincoln County Lodgers’ Tax.
“The Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce and our FOL Parnters are working hard to ensure visitors are aware of the incredible events and activities Ruidoso has for this Holiday Season. Our media plan includes radio in El Paso, Southeastern NM and West Texas; billboards in Albuquerque; and to our regional drive market rack cards, direct mail and internet promotions have been circulated. We have also run some television ads in Lubbock. Our goal is to continue to provide existing and new events enticing visitors to come to Ruidoso for a weekend getaway and to enjoy the events, shopping and skiing during all of November, December and January.
Every year included in the Festival of Lights are certain standards, or events. This year the standards include: The Christmas Jubilee, The Festival of Lights Annual Lighting of the Village, Christmas at the Lodge, Christmas in the Park, Lincoln County Community Theater, Fireside Celebration at The Lodge of Sierra Blanca, ENMU Choir and Chorale, FOL Ski Apache Torch Light Parade, and FOL Parade of Lights. The Spencer Theater, in conjunction with the Ruidoso Dance Ensemble will be performing an original adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. For a complete list and times of holiday events, please go to www. Ruidosonow.com or call the Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce at (575) 257-7395. Walk Through Bethlehem will not be in the line-up this year – the organizers of the event never imagined how big it would become (or how successful) - they need a break, but will be back next year.
Please be aware that due to the parade, portions of Highway 48 will be closed Saturday afternoon beginning at approximately 4:30pm. All residential roads along Mechem Drive from Sudderth north to Porr Drive will be closed and traffic rerouted except for parade entries. The intersection of Sudderth, Robin, and Carrizo Canyon roads will be closed at approximately 4:30 p.m. and traffic re-routed. Westbound Paradise Canyon Road will remain open prior and during the parade for detoured traffic. All roads intersecting the parade route will be closed at approximately 4:45pm. Public parking areas are located at the corner of Wingfield and Center streets and along Rio Street just north of Midtown.