Luminaria event honors loved ones lost to COVID-19

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – An event in the South Valley not only collected toys and canned food for those in need, but it also honored the lives of those lost to COVID-19. 

“COVID is still going on, people are still suffering, people are still dying,” said Steve Guiterrez, brother to COVID-19 victim. “But now people can come here and see that we still care for them.” 

Just like the Enriquez family there are many families who are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19. Several luminarias at the event represented a person who lost their battle to COVID-19. 

“He was an artist, a New Mexico local artist he loved drawing. He was just the best brother a brother can have I guess you can say,” said Charles Enriquez about his brother, Steven Enriquez, who died last year due to COVID-19. 

On Saturday, Charles and his family showed up to Dolores Huerta Gateway Park in the South Valley to light a luminaria in his brother’s honor, along with countless others who also lost a loved one because of the pandemic. 

“Throughout the pandemic we lost more than 8,000 New Mexicans have died, that’s the population of Belen, so we’re here to honor that,” said Victor Carillo, event organizer. 

There was even a toy and canned food drive to help folks in the South Valley.

“We’re here to make sure you get vaccinated, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. There’s a free health screening, we’re here for you guys and just a way to come together as a community as well, so we have something to celebrate each year,” said Carillo.  

There was live music, food, and community.

“I just want to say thank you to the organizers and I appreciate all that you have done to help remember all of our fallen ones, we appreciate it,” said Charles.  

The holidays can be especially hard when it comes to dealing with a loss of a loved one, so organizers say having events that bring the community together can help. They plan to remember and honor those who we’ve lost during the pandemic for many more years to come.