Talon News - Good Local News

By Jessica Selph


Aztec Ruins


December 15, 2017


The two luminaries were lit to honor Casey and Paco during the Evening of Lights

The evening of Thursday, December 7th was supposed to be one filled with night strollers, lights, friends, Christmas cheer and hot cocoa. The Rangers at Aztec Ruins National Monument were prepared for their annual gift to the city, an Evening of Lights, until hearing of Thursday morning's tragic news of a shooting at our high shool. The staff at the ruins immediately set to planning and preparing for the changes that were sure to come. It was decided by 2 pm that it would be best to postpone the evenings festivities in order to grieve with their community.

Lead Interpretive Ranger, Danielle York, shares her heart, "We wanted to be sure to support the community of Aztec as everyone gathered for the candlelight vigil, and we wanted to be there as well. Moving the event just one night did require a gargantuan amount of effort, but we were able to do it. We did have to call on help from other rangers as well." The challenge was taken on with vigor and without complaint. Numerous volunteers from Chaco Canyon and two from Mesa Verde came to help. On Friday evening, Nathan Hatfield, Chief of Interpretation for the Aztec Ruins and Chaco Canyon, who organized the volunteers stated, "Normally we have a lot of volunteers from the high school. We have the Key Club and JROTC and a few of them came but not as many as what we've seen in previous years, meaning longer hours for us but we realize that you know. We needed to pull this off because this is our gift to the city and the city really needed this tonight."

Despite the sovereign hush resting upon our hearts there was still fun to be had. Santa was there with stuffed animals for the little ones, there was an ornament crafting station, and music. Cookies and cocoa were free to all. Nearing the end of the night, ranger York looked around the tent as we closed our interview. She directed a smile to the children's station saying, "That kid's activity table has been completely full the entire night. It's so neat to see!"

Thank you Aztec Ruins and the volunteers that came together to make this night a success. You were right, the community needed this.

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