Christmas On The Pecos
By Michele Robertson Twinkling lights, smiling faces, and crisp air on your face as you cruise down a river in the desert to delight in a Christmas wonderland. An experience like no other-Christmas on the Pecos began in 1991 and is a Carlsbad tradition. This year they are celebrating 30 years of cruising the Pecos River. The weekend after Thanksgiving has consistently been the opening weekend. Cruises run daily with passenger boarding starting at 6 pm from November 26th to December 31st, with the exception of Christmas Eve. “We’ve tilted Carlsbad on its axis and brought Christmas to Carlsbad,” CEO for the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce Chad Ingram shared. “It’s a radical change from years past,” he added.Opening night brought in about 1500 people in and around the Pecos River Village Conference Center (PRV) area. A Christmas village of lights to meander through with plenty of social media worthy picture locations (tag yours with #DestinationCarlsbad), shopping, and dining await you here. 390 of these visitors representing half a dozen states, rode on one of the two new pontoon boats the chamber acquired with the help of boat sponsors. The B & B Welding Holly and the Forrest Tire Rudolph set sail in 30-minute increments throughout each evening. The boats will host these names through this season and the next. Other businesses will have the opportunity to sponsor a boat for two years. “Without these businesses, the boats would not be what they are now, and we are incredibly grateful for their help,” Ingram said. Each boat has a capacity of 65 passengers and there are six tours every night. Children ages 12 and under are required by law to wear a life vest while on board the boat, and with sponsorship from Chevron the Chamber was able to purchase brand new life vests for passengers. A new feature this year is themed weekends. Opening weekend was Christmas shopping weekend, this upcoming weekend is Foodie themed, followed by a Gaming weekend sponsored by Burnrite. Then it is the Winter Wine Festival with live local music on Friday night and a performance by Holly Tucker on Saturday night sponsored by Affinity Realty. Christmas day is movie day sponsored by Howard Energy Partners, with Christmas movies going all day on a blow up screen outside. Locals, you get to enjoy the local rate any night of the week now. “A limited number of tickets are available at the ticket office each day on a first come, first served basis when the box office opens,” shared Jill Barkley, Tourism Director for the Chamber. “Christmas on the Pecos doesn’t happen with the efforts of one single person. We wouldn’t be successful as a Chamber without Donna Cass, Jancie Pope, Jill Barkley, Albert Ornelas, Reyes Payanes, and Rudy Ordunez,” said Ingram. “Their knowledge and experience make it all possible.”“Everyone at the City has been so supportive, I can’t thank them enough. Mayor Janway, John Lowe, KC Cass, and Wendy Austin, they’ve been awesome in this experience,” shared Ingram.
New lights can be seen along the boat tour along with familiar favorites. Christmas on the Pecos merchandise is available. There are playing cards, beanies, hoodies, and more to choose from. the Christmas on the Pecos Gift Shop is open nightly from 5 pm to about 9:30 pm. The gift shop features handcrafted items from 14 local artisans. PJ & B’s Rio Cafe is also open nightly starting at 5:30 pm until the last boat boards. Their full menu is available for those that are hungry, and if you need a hot beverage to warm the belly, they’ve got a selection of tea, hot cocoa, an espresso bar, cider, and the like. With XTO as the event sponsor and Sendero always a friend to the Chamber and sponsorships from ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil among others, “We’re not just a boat ride, we are an experience. Carlsbad is a Christmas destination,” said Ingram. “This year, we get to see smiles on kids' faces that they may not have had over the past 18 months,” said Ingram. The Chamber is looking forward to seeing families enjoying themselves and talking about their favorite displays after taking the tour