River of Lights kicks off Saturday with added pedestrian safety measures

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With Thanksgiving over, the countdown to Christmas has now begun – and if you want to step into a winter wonderland, the ABQ BioPark’s Botanic Garden is putting on its 25th annual River of Lights holiday light show. 

Starting Saturday, millions of twinkling lights will soon illuminate the BioPark. Visitors will get to stroll down a mile-and-a-half path, filled with 700 light displays and even some animated 3D sculptures. 

The River of Lights is currently in the running in USA Today’s top 10 holiday light displays in the country. 

If you are planning on attending, the River of Lights requires a reserved ticket, only available to purchase online. They are also offering a free park-and-ride from the ABQ BioPark Zoo.  

Although the River of Lights has put on more than two decades’ worth of dazzling holiday light displays, there are some changes to safety this year.  

Last December, the tragic hit-and-run death of 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya highlighted a need for more safety precautions for pedestrians.   

Last week the city announced multiple changes to boost pedestrian safety this year, starting with extra crossing guards on duty.  

The city says it has what is referred to as a “Hawk signal,” a high-intensity activated crosswalk that’s in place at the ART station east of Tingley. 

“That stops vehicle traffic for both eastbound and westbound on central. When that’s activated, that’ll make it significantly safer for the pedestrians to cross,” said Scott Blackledge, CABQ Chief for the Metro Security Division. “We’ll also have crossing guards there on peak nights to assist with the Hawk signal itself and to ensure the safety of the people crossing the street.”  

Tingley Beach will be reserved for event parking only, with no regular parking like what was done in past years.