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Christmas parade in Albuquerque honoring victims of gun violence

Tuesday marks four days until Albuquerque’s annual Twinkle Light Parade. The family-friendly holiday event takes place every year along Route 66 in Nob Hill. While it’s a time to show off bright and colorful floats, for some people it’s also a chance to raise awareness of big issues. Like gun violence all over New Mexico. “I cry all the time. Do you know where my life ended up? at,” said Alicia Otero. For the second year in a row, the New Mexico Crusaders for Justice will be taking part in the Christmas parade. The group is made up of families who have lost loved ones to violent gun violence. And their influence has only grown. Otero is a co-founder of the organization . She lost her son Elias in February 2021. “It brings with it a lot of tears. We all miss our loved ones,” she said. Similar to their debut last year, the group assembled a float. The unique artwork consists of drawings, Airbrushes and images of people killed in armed violence. Many of them were children. The effort involved months of planning and weeks of preparation. But ultimately the group settled on a specific theme. “Our theme this year is ‘The Grinch Who stole our loved ones,'” Otero said. “It’s going to be a Grinch theme, and we’ve got all the loved ones on the side. They are all lost at gunpoint and we will honor them.” Otero and her husband, Luiz, are just two of the 20 Albuquerque members who dedicated endless hours to the float. “I helped with the framing. I hung lights. I’ve done what I can to help,” he said. The hardest part? Luiz said it’s not about the handwork, it’s about the paintings on display. “It’s sad to see. That was the hardest part of it,” he said. “Seeing the pictures of all the deceased loved ones.” For the first time ever, members aren’t just focusing on the Albuquerque-based organizations. They also focus on the subchapters. “I worked hard on the float. You know, I’m thinking about the families. All victims of murder,” said Vangie Randall-Shorty. Families in Farmington are also working on their own float, just in time for the city’s Christmas parade on December 1st. Randall-Shorty lost her son Zachariah after he was shot and killed on the Navajo Nation in July 2020. “I stand for him being his voice, and across the families,” she said. “It was emotional.” Over in Ruidoso, Lisa Morales runs the Ruidoso sub-chapter. Members there are also working on a special Christmas float. Similar to others she grieves every day for her son Joseph, who was just 19 when he was killed in his freshman year at the University of New Mexico: “We have a ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ We have flyers and banners and all Victims will stand on a star that will be part of our float,” Morales said. She added that she hopes to change her own trauma to help others. “Until you’ve actually lost a child, son or daughter, you really don’t understand how deep that grief goes,” she told the Pain Group Stands Strong. Hoping to support one another and raise awareness of an issue that is devastating families. “It keeps me going,” Otero said. “It keeps me on my toes and I think it’s very therapeutic for other families to get involved.” If you would like to join the group in the 2022 Albuquerque Twinkle Light Parade, contact the New Mexico Crusaders for Justice on their Facebook page here. The holiday event takes place on December 3rd at 17:15

Tuesday marks four days until Albuquerque’s annual Twinkle Light Parade. The family-friendly holiday event takes place every year along Route 66 in Nob Hill.

While it’s a time to show off bright and colorful floats, for some people it’s also a chance to raise awareness of big issues.

Like gun violence all over New Mexico.

“I cry all the time. You know where my life ended up,” Alicia Otero said.

For the second year in a row, the New Mexico Crusaders for Justice will take part in the Christmas parade. The group consists of families who have lost loved ones to violent gun violence.

And her influence has only grown.

Otero is a co-founder of the organization. She lost her son Elias in February 2021.

“A lot of tears flow. We all miss our loved ones,” she said.

Similar to their debut last year, the group put together a float. The unique artwork consists of drawings, airbrushes and images of people killed in armed violence. Many of them were children.

The effort involved months of planning and weeks of preparation. But eventually the group settled on a specific topic.

“Our theme this year is ‘The Grinch Who Stole Our Loved Ones,'” Otero said. “It’s going to be a Grinch themed, and we’ve got all the loves on the side. They were all lost at gunpoint and we will honor them.”

Otero and her husband Luiz are just two of 20 Albuquerque members who have dedicated endless amounts of time to the float.

“I helped with the framing. I hung lights. I’ve done what I can to help,” he said.

The hardest part? Luiz said it’s not about the handwork, it’s about the paintings on display.

“It’s sad to see. That was the hardest part of it,” he said. “Seeing the pictures of all the loved ones who have passed away.”

For the first time ever, members aren’t just focusing on Albuquerque-based organizations. They also focus on the subchapters.

“I worked hard on the float. You know, I’m thinking about the families. All victims of murder,” said Vangie Randall-Shorty.

Families in Farmington are also working on their own float, just in time for the city’s Christmas parade on December 1st.

Randall-Shorty lost her son Zachariah after he was shot and killed on the Navajo Nation in July 2020.

“I stand up for him being his voice and over the families,” she said. “It was emotional.”

Over in Ruidoso, Lisa Morales runs the Ruidoso subchapter.

Members there are also working on a special Christmas float.

Like others, she mourns the loss of her son Joseph every day. He was just 19 years old when he was killed in his freshman year at the University of New Mexico.

“We have a ‘Stairway to Heaven’ [theme]. We have flyers and banners and all the sacrifices will be on a star that will be part of our float,” Morales said.

She added that she hopes to inspire change through her own trauma to help others.

“Until you’ve actually lost a child, son or daughter, you really don’t understand how deep that grief goes,” she said.

Despite the pain, the group stands strong.

Hoping to support one another and raise awareness of an issue that is devastating families.

“It keeps me going,” Otero said. “It’s on my mind and I think it’s very therapeutic for other families to be involved with.”

If you would like to join the group in the 2022 Albuquerque Twinkle Light Parade, contact the New Mexico Crusaders for Justice on their Facebook page here.

The holiday event takes place on December 3rd at 17:15

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