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Mesa Verde National Park cancels popular luminaria event

The multistoried Square Tower House is illuminated for the 2018 Luminaria Open House and the doors, kivas and alcove walls glow with the soft, golden light of lanterns. (Courtesy of J. Lamphier)
Road construction, lack of staff hampered effort

For the third year in a row, the luminaria holiday tradition at Mesa Verde National Park has been canceled.

“Regretfully, we will not be offering this holiday celebration this year,” a park news release said. “With the closure of the Mesa Top Loop for road construction this fall, we were not able to plan adequately and, with current staff shortages, we have concerns regarding our ability to host the event safely.”

The park hopes to resume the popular tradition next year. It was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic and in 2021 because of a winter storm.

Luminarias are paper bags with a light source inside. Park staff members position them around the park and inside dwellings of famous cliff houses for the public to view.

The park event attracts visitors from around the country to enjoy the lantern-lit homes of the Ancestral Puebloan people on the winter landscape.

“It is a labor of love for park staff as well, involving many hours of logistical planning that begins in early fall and continues until well after the event,” the news release said.