Lovable luminaries that have been known to float through the air on Christmas Eve won’t grace downtown skies this season. Santa Fe Fire Marshal Rey Gonzales says he will not be granting a permit to Arvo Thomson to launch his famed flying farolitos this year because they’re not allowed under the city’s fire code.
Thomson's been launching the farolitos, which consist of giant tetrahedrons made of tissue paper and wax candles, for more than two decades to the delight of spectators at Acequia Madre Middle School.
Once its in the sky for a few minutes, the flame from the candles causes the farolito to disintegrate.
But Gonzales says the holiday tradition adopted from New Zealand doesn't meet standards enforced in the International Fire Code, which limits open burns to 3 square feet on the ground and just 2 feet in height. "Without determining where these are going to go and where these are going to land—that's just hard to supervise," he tells SFR.
The city adopted the new codes in mid-2011, and Gonzales says the last time he could find evidence of Thomson receiving a permit for the display was under the last fire marshal in 2009. (Joey Peters)