Lighting ceremony honors animals

Hundreds of farolitos will be lit Friday at the Santa Fe animal shelter in a special ceremony that will include pet portraits, luminarias and refreshments.farolito-eblast-graphic

The farolitos in the Light the Way Home event will represent all homeless animals given a new chance with a loving family thanks to the generosity of the community, said Gabrielle Amster, the shelter’s director of sustainability. The shelter has been raising funds for weeks in its holiday campaign that offers supporters a chance to put their name, a loved one’s name or the name of an animal on the farolito bags for a $100 donation.

Shelter staff and volunteers will be lining the shelter’s drive with the bags for the 6 p.m. event, which also includes refreshments, a Christmas tree lighting and three luminarias for s’mores in the shelter’s courtyard.

The shelter also will kick off a new creative fundraising effort – pet portraits – through its own Lenslicker Photography. Jacob Felix, a well-known photographer and shelter staff member, will be taking portraits of pets for donations at the event. His unique portraits also will be available throughout the year to the public for a fee. Visit for more information about packages and costs.

Farolitas and luminarias are a unique Northern New Mexico tradition, one that the shelter will honor in its own special way. The lights have their roots in the 1800s, when small bonfires were used to guide people to the celebration of Christmas Mass.

Now, the lights will help with saving the lives of homeless animals. The goal is to raise $200,000 and light they way home for 2,000 shelter animals.

“A homeless animal’s life is often filled with darkness, without a loving home to brighten his or her life,” said Dr. Jennifer Steketee, the shelter’s executive director. “With your help, we can light their way home this holiday season and beyond.”

The event offers a chance for the community to get to know Steketee, who was named the shelter’s executive director in November. Steketee, the shelter’s former medical director, said she’s excited to lead the shelter.

“The shelter has spent 75 years changing the way our community sees animals, and I am honored to be part of its future,” she said. “There is no limit to what a group of passionate, driven animal lovers can accomplish.”

For more information about the Light The Way Home campaign, or to make a donation, visit the shelter’s website at or visit the shelter’s Facebook page,