Holiday lights going up across the region

By Wayne Bryan Published November 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Hot Springs Parks Maintenance Division personnel install a new 6-foot lighted Christmas wreath on the upper facade of the Exchange Street Parking Plaza in downtown Hot Springs. For 11 years, city workers have used bucket trucks from Seiz Signs to place the lights for the holidays.

Bucket trucks and strings of lights are going up, or not going up, in the cities of the Tri-Lakes Edition coverage area as the holiday season is about to begin.

Among the first cities to get ready for the season was Hot Springs. Crews from the Hot Springs Parks Maintenance Division were stringing lights along Central Avenue early in November. Using a bucket truck from Seiz Signs, a local business, the crews spent one day installing a new 6-foot lighted wreath on the upper facade of the Exchange Street Parking Plaza facing Bathhouse Row.

Terry Payne, public information officer for the city, said the sign company has partnered with Hot Springs officials to give city employees the height needed for the highest holiday lighting.

The annual downtown holiday lighting ceremony is also coming early, scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the parking plaza. The lighting will take place following the Hot Springs Chili Cook-off, sponsored by the downtown merchants in Hot Springs.

Payne said the cook-off and the sale of the chili made during the day will go to defraying the costs of the downtown lights.

Then on Dec. 9, the 2013 Oaklawn Rotary Christmas Parade will be held at 6:30 p.m.

The grand marshal of the parade will be Terry Wallace, the longtime Oaklawn Park Race Track announcer, once known as “the Most Recognizable Voice in Arkansas.”

Wallace served 37 years as the track announcer and headed the racing park’s media-relations department. He called 20,191 consecutive races, from 1975 to Jan. 28, 2011.

Another city getting ready for the holidays is Arkadelphia, where a 20-foot Christmas tree was erected on the lawn of Town Hall on Thursday.

“We had talked about getting a bigger tree, but this was the largest we could find, and it was donated to us,” Arkadelphia City Manager Jimmy Bolt said. Additional holiday decorations are being placed on light poles in the downtown area.

“The decorations won’t go onto the newer light poles, but we are putting up the lights where we can,” Bolt said.

A tree-lighting ceremony and the annual Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 3, sponsored by the Arkadelphia Downtown Network, said Deborah Sesser, a member of the network board.

“The merchants will be decorating and lighting the businesses in downtown Arkadelphia,” she said. “The network will be offering prizes for the best decorations.”

In Malvern, the downtown merchants have been decorating the light poles along Main Street every year since 2009, but Julie Warner, a leading retail store operator on Main, said this year could be different.

“The wreaths we have been putting up did not hold up that well in the big Christmas snowstorm last year,” she said. “They cannot go back up. I have been talking to some of the merchants about putting up banners along the street, but I don’t know if we will have time to do that this year.”

Warner said she hopes a year with fewer decorations might help get the merchants involved in the planning for holiday decorations earlier next year.

The annual Bryant Lighted Christmas Parade, sponsored by Edwards Food Giant, will be held Dec. 3, and anyone who wants to enter a vehicle or float in the parade can contact the Bryant Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is also holding a contest among local companies for the best decorated office.

The prize for the best decorations will be $100, said Rae Ann Fields, executive director of the chamber. We will go the second weekend in December and judge,” she said. “We look forward to some great decorations.”

While the Bryant Chamber and the city of Bryant have cooperatively decorated the city for Christmas for many years, Fields said, Entergy has made a decision to no longer allow anything on the power poles.

“We are sad to see very little Christmas decorations this year in our town,” she said, “but we fully understand their decision.”

For a business to enter the decorating contest, call (501) 847-4702.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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