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’Tis the season!

Three Rivers area gets into the Christmas spirit

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published December 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.


Officials at Harding University in Searcy flipped the switch Monday night to illuminate the school’s Christmas lights.

Now that the turkey’s been put away and the dressing leftovers are running out, Christmas is fast approaching as the weather turns wintry in the Three Rivers Edition coverage area. Almost every county in the area has a lighting ceremony, a parade or Santa showing up to hear children’s wishes on their Christmas lists.

Santa’s helper in Searcy, who has been helping the city for the past 12 years, said he finds joy in talking to children in the community.

“When I put the suit on, I just hide myself behind the beard and the clothes,” he said.

He talks to hundreds of kids in the area and can get some pretty outlandish requests as Christmas draws close.

“One kid asked me for a can of stink spray,” he said. “I told him, ‘I don’t know if the elves can make that or not.’”

Though kids can think out of the box, some of their requests touch this certain Santa’s helper’s heart.

“The ones that really touch me are the kids that are real genuine when they come up to me,” he said. “They ask for peace in the world, or for all homeless people to have shelter, and they’re sincere. That happens about three or four times a year.”

Peggy Newkirk, business office manager for the Bald Knob Area Chamber of Commerce, said she enjoys seeing reactions from children and other residents when they come to Returning Christmas to Bald Knob each year.

“I love seeing the kids’ faces when they talk to Santa, and we get to help feed others,” she said.

So, with Thanksgiving now past, here’s a guide to help residents find their community’s Christmas parades, lightings and other festivities in the Three Rivers Edition coverage area.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or

• • •

Three Rivers area Christmas events

All events are free unless otherwise noted.


• The Cabot Christmas Parade will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday at Cabot Junior High South, travel down South Pine Street and end on Pine Street.

• Christmas in Cabot, from 6-9 p.m. Friday in the Cabot City Courtyard, will feature the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony, Santa Claus, a merry-go-round and a hay ride. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be postponed until Dec. 13.


• The Jacksonville Christmas Parade will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club in Jacksonville.

• Jacksonville’s Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. today at Jacksonville City Hall.

• Little Rock Air Force Base’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be at 5 p.m. Friday at the Thomas Community Activity Center on base.

White County:

• Returning Christmas to Bald Knob, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in the downtown Bald Knob Courtyard, will feature carriage rides, Santa Claus, hot chocolate, hot dogs and cookies.

• The 2013 Annual Beebe Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade will start at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Beebe High School campus.

• The Searcy Christmas Parade will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at Spring Park, travel down Pleasure Avenue and Spring Street, and end on Woodruff Avenue.

• An Old Fashioned Christmas, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Pioneer Village in Searcy, will feature volunteers in period dress performing old-fashioned craftsmanship and Christmas carols. Sugar cookies and hot chocolate will be served.

• The Living Nativity, from 5-8 p.m. on weekends through Dec. 15 at the First Assembly of God Church in Searcy, will allow visitors to be “taken back in time” to experience what life was like when Jesus Christ was born.

Cleburne County:

• The Heber Springs Christmas Parade, at 6 p.m. Saturday, will begin at Seventh and Main streets and end at Spring Park.

• The Lighting at Fairfield Bay Senior Center at 5:30 p.m. today will feature coffee, punch and cookies for visitors.

Sharp County:

• The Ash Flat Christmas Parade, at 2 p.m. Saturday, will begin at Forschler’s Home Center and end on Main Street.

• The Cherokee Village Christmas Parade, at 5:30 p.m. Friday, will leave from Flathead Bridge in Cherokee Village and end at the Town Center.

• The Hardy Christmas Parade, at 11 a.m. Dec. 14, will leave from Hardy City Hall and end at McDonald’s.

Jackson County:

• The Courthouse Christmas Lighting Ceremony, at 6 p.m. Friday at the Jackson County Courthouse in Newport, will include live entertainment, hot chocolate and cookies.

• The Tuckerman Christmas Parade, at noon Saturday, will begin at Tuckerman High School.

• The Newport Christmas Parade, at 6 p.m. Dec. 12, will travel down Malcolm Avenue from Arkansas 69 to the Village Mall parking lot.

Stone County:

• The Courthouse Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, from 5-8 p.m. Saturday at the Stone County Courthouse, will feature live music, Santa Claus and a live Nativity.

• Caroling in the Caverns, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. weekends through Dec. 22 at Blanchard Springs Caverns, will feature local musicians singing Christmas carols in the caves. Tickets cost $20.

Woodruff County:

• The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, will take place at ArCare Park in Augusta.

• The Augusta Christmas Parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Dec. 14 at Bill’s Pharmacy.

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