Bugg Lights are finally coming to Belen

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Christmas might be a whole eight months away, but it's come early this year for the city of Belen by way of a long-awaited gift of the famous Bugg Lights.

Ronnie Torres, the tech at the Belen Harvey House Museum, announced this week that the beloved holiday light display will finally make its way to the Hub City — seven years after Torres, the former mayor, unsuccessfully lobbied to bring the animated display to Belen, Bethlehem in Spanish.

Torres told the Belen City Council Monday he recently received a call asking if the city would be interested in taking over the Bugg Light display, which was previously on exhibit at the private Menaul School in Albuquerque.

The large display had been at the home of Norman and Joyce Bugg in Albuquerque for years, but because of the amount of traffic it generated in their neighborhood, the collection of animated figures, such as Snoopy skating on an ice rink and a Ferris wheel, were donated to the New Mexico Multicultural Foundation in 2002. The lights were then set up at ¡Traditions! off Interstate 25 at the Budaghers exit.

When that property was sold, a statewide search began in 2007 for a new home for the Bugg Lights. With requests from cities across the state in addition to a few from outside New Mexico, Belen was the first runner-up, coming in second to Menaul School.

"Needless to say, (the school) has run into a situation where it's just getting too much for them to do and they don't have enough storage space," Torres said. "They called us and asked if we were interested."

Torres said he received permission from Mayor Jerah Cordova before pursuing the offer and went to the school Monday to see what was what.

"I was very impressed with the way they have everything totally in order," he said. "It's just beautiful what they have. They have 15-foot structures, animated displays and a lot of stuff from the 1970s."

Torres says he's planning to use the Bugg Lights and all of the displays as an exhibit at the Harvey House Museum, starting on Nov. 29 through the month of December.

"I'm hoping during the month of December to turn the Harvey House into the Belen Bugg Light House to attract tourists to the city," Torres said.

Torres, who began the city's Miracle on Main Street Light Parade more than 25 years ago, said he will need some help from the city in terms of electrical work to make the display possible.

He also said the project is "doable" and with a lot of hard work and from volunteers, Torres is hopeful the Bugg Lights in Belen will be an attraction for years to come.

The walking-tour display would be open every night with the help of different groups, such as youth and civic organizations. Torres suggested that it would be a way not only to make money for the city, but for the organizations to raise funds as well.

"I've been thinking how we could bring a lot of people to Belen and how we could make it a Christmas destination," he said. "There are also displays that we could put down Becker Avenue."

With more than 50 displays, Torres said there are also more than $75,000 worth of lights, all of which have been converted to LED, metal ornaments and sculptures.

"We would like to kick it off the night of the Christmas parade and start off the holiday season," he said. "I think we'll have people come from all over the state to see it. I will work as hard as I can to make sure it's a success."

Torres said he will soon be forming a volunteer committee to help with the planning of the exhibit.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.