CARLSBAD, NEW MEXICO — Carlsbad, New Mexico may be thousands of miles away from the North Pole, but come Christmas time it sure feels like a lot closer than that. The Christmas magic starts to come alive at dusk. That's when the lines start to form, everyone waiting for Christmas on the Pecos, a river cruise past hundreds of brightly decorated homes.
"We've had people from England, Germany, Australia, a lot from New York," said Lisa Boeke with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.
Every night from Thanksgiving to New Year's, pontoon boats glide up the Pecos River. Christmas lights dance on the water. 16,000 people visit Carlsbad every winter just to glimpse this moving art gallery.
"The reflection of the water and the lights is just really, really cool," describes El Paso native Ray Gonzales.
Thousands of Christmas lights line the river today, but it all started out pretty simple 21 years ago, which just a couple of boats and a couple of lights.
"Three people decorated their homes. They ran one boat. It was a 10 person passenger boat," said Boeke.
Today 105 out of 108 homeowners participate. If you're a fan of Christmas, it doesn't get much better than this.
"The moment you driver over the bridge and you see the lights it just kind of wows you," describes Boeke.
Many of the displays have a water theme. Some even include a splash of tequilla. No matter your favorite, it's one boat ride you won't soon forget.
It's a display lighting up the faces of passengers, almost as bright as the homes themselves.
If you want to check this Local Treasure out, boats depart every 15 minutes starting at 5:15 until 9:45 until the New Year, with one exception: no boats will run Christmas Eve. Tickets cost between $12.50 and $17.50, depending on the day, and can be purchased by clicking on the link below: