BOAT TOURS ALONG THE PECOS RIVER through a wonderland of twinkling light displays, a Christmas Village arts and crafts market, and visits with Santa have enchanted Carlsbad for more than three decades. Christmas on the Pecos volunteer event chair David Beaty has shared his love for his favorite holiday since moving to the southeastern New Mexico town six years ago. The manager of a local grocery store and Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce board president, Beaty coordinates an entire Santa’s workshop of volunteers to greet and guide visitors as they marvel at the multitude of festive boat docks, backyards, and tiny islands.

EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT Carlsbad Caverns, but Christmas on the Pecos is such a unique event.

As you pass the 90-plus majestic homes on the river, you see these manicured backyards with huge, themed light displays. You don’t know which way to look because the lights are on both sides. You can see the river and the lights shimmering, reflected off the water.

Read more: For gallery owner Sarah Hart, Taos’s Bonfires on Bent Street is more than just a reason to shop.

Last year, we created a tunnel of red and white lights at the Christmas Village to make the event even more majestic. There are multiple lit-up areas for family and group photos, too. Santa is in one of the Christmas Village houses with Mrs. Claus, and you see all the buildings with lights and decorations.

I’m also involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs and love bringing the kids and watching them point at the lights, hollering the whole time with oohs and aahs. We sing carols on the boats, too, as music plays. Seeing the event through the eyes of a child is really special.

More than 60 percent of the 11,500 visitors last year came from outside the area. I love listening to the stories of all the people we meet from Europe, Australia, Asia, Canada, as well as all over the U.S. It’s neat to see the way the event brings joy to people’s faces, especially in a world full of negativity. To bring a little joy to the world and be a part of that? I love it.

Read more: These cooking classes can help make your holiday meal the gift of the season.

Christmas on the Pecos

November 25–December 31 (except Christmas Eve); tours begin at 6 p.m.,
711 Muscatel Ave., Carlsbad; 575-887-6516,