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Arkansas has plethora of pre-Yule festivities

By JACK SCHNEDLER ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published December 5, 2013 at 2:47 a.m.

houses-in-historic-washington-state-park-are-decked-out-in-traditional-victorian-finery-for-the-annual-christmas-and-candlelight-celebration

Houses in Historic Washington State Park are decked out in traditional Victorian finery for the annual Christmas and Candlelight celebration.

A single Christmas parade or tree lighting will suffice to stoke the pre-Yuletide spirit of most Arkansans. But this weekend brings a Natural State cornucopia - a curmudgeon might even dare to label it a plethora - of these jolly December festivities. The revelry is widespread enough to satisfy even the holiday marathoners among us.

Christmas warmups in the Little Rock area are reported elsewhere in today’s Arkansas Weekend. Beyond our metropolis, here’s a sampler of ho-ho-ho highlights, with admission free unless noted.Given sufficient stamina and ample gasoline, a road tripper could take in most if not all of them between now and Sunday:

Russellville Christmas Parade. Touting itself as “the largest lit parade in Arkansas,” Russellville’s “Songs of Christmas” procession sets off at 6:30 p.m. today from the corner of South Arkansas and 10th streets. A message from the mayor’s office urges: “Please do not stand in the street or allow children to run into the street - please view the parade from the safety of the sidewalks.” Call (479) 968-1272 or visit russellvillechamber.org.

Christmas Festival, Parade and Fireworks in Mena. This Ouachita Mountains community starts its parade at 6 p.m. Friday with “The Joy of Christmas” as its theme. At 7p.m. Friday in Janssen Park, a holiday concert by Lana Gail & the Gail Force will be followed by a fireworks display. A tree-lighting ceremony and the arrival of Santa Claus will be part of the mix. Call (479) 394-8355 or see visitmena.com.

Helena Holiday Festival. A highlight of this eight-day event ending Sunday is the Helena-West Helena Christmas Parade, which steps off at 6 p.m. Friday in the Plaza District and winds up on Sebastian Street. Fans of Snoopy and Linus will relish the theme: “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Call (870) 714-2844 or see visithelenaar.com.

Eureka Springs Lighted Christmas Parade. This resort town’s parade begins at 6 p.m. Friday, winding down Spring Street. There’s more action Saturday, when 30 Christmas trees decorated by local charities are lighted at 6 p.m. On Sunday’s calendar from 1 to 3 p.m. is Festive Downtown & 150 Holiday Season Style, focused on shopping. Call (479) 253-8737 or visit eurekasprings.com.

Christmas Memories -Hot Springs Tree Decorating. There’s a sentimental tinge to this “family friendly tree decorating event” starting at 6 p.m. Friday in downtown Hot Springs’ Kenneth Adair Memorial Park. Visitors are invited to take an ornament to hang on one of five memorial trees to remember deceased loved ones, as well as those on military duty. Call (501) 321-6871 or visit cityhs.net.

Smackover Holiday Lights Extravaganza. Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources State Park outside Smackover will be the setting from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday for a display of more than 200,000 Christmas lights, including an ice castle with falling snow. Admission is $5 ($3 for kids 6-12). The extravaganza will also be open Saturday as well as Dec. 13-14 and Dec. 20-22. Call (870) 725-2877 or visit amnr.org.

Historic Washington Christmas & Candlelight. For the 27th year, Historic Washington will light thousands of luminaria candles for tours, 5-8 p.m. Saturday. Visits to the state park’s pioneer-era houses, which are decorated for the season, will take place from 1 to 5 p.m., while the site’s Williams Tavern will serve a buffet meal 11 a.m-8 p.m. The event will be repeated Dec. 14. Call (870) 983-2684 or visit HistoricWashington-StatePark.com.

Courthouse Lighting & Living Windows in Van Buren. Shop windows along history-rich Main Street in Van Buren will glow starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with some 30 displays of good-old-days scenes such as spinning, butter-churning, candle-dipping, gingerbread-making and chair-caning. Attention will turn at 6 p.m. to the tree lighting at the courthouse. Call (800) 332-5889 or visit vanburen.org.

Information on this weekend’s numerous other Christmas-related events around the state can be found at arkansas.com, the Web site of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism.

Weekend, Pages 39 on 12/05/2013

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