SEARCY Searcy Parks and Recreation will hold its annual lighting of the Berryhill Park Christmas lights Tuesday. Berryhill Park is at 1729 E. Moore Ave. in Searcy.
The parks department received $20,000 from the Searcy Advertising and Promotion Commission to upgrade lights and other amenities for the holiday season.
“It goes pretty quickly when you start looking at things,” said Mike Parsons, Searcy parks director. “We haven’t really replaced or added to our lights in the past five years. The sad part of the story is that there’s always vandalism and theft. You’ve got to take that into consideration.
“We’ll be able to buy spare lights in case something gets stolen. We’re able to repair it the next day so the citizens don’t miss anything.”
The lights at Berryhill Park contain 15 to 20 displays with thousands of individual LED lights throughout the park, Parsons said.
“We’ll have some new displays, and we’ve moved some stuff around,” Parsons said. “We’re trying to get lighting on the rooftops on the downtown businesses, as well as down Spring Street to Spring Park.”
The Berryhill lighting ceremony will start at 6 p.m. Parsons said the lights should be turned on by 6:10 or 6:15. Barry Brandt of KATV-Channel 7 will be the master of ceremonies.
Also opening that night will be the synthetic ice-skating rink at Spring Park.
“We’re going to dedicate it at some point in time to the memory of Janet Crain,” Parsons said. “She and her husband, Larry, were the ones who put up most of the money for the skating rink. This will be our fourth year running it.”
Janet Crain died Dec. 14, 2018. She and her husband owned car dealerships and a media company in Arkansas.
“It won’t be anything big, fancy or elaborate,” Parsons said of the dedication, “but we want the family to know that we are very thankful for their donation and that we want to dedicate [the rink] to her memory.”
Parsons said some of the A&P money will be used to make updates to the rink.
“We don’t have the money to replace all the synthetic ice, but with some of that money, we’re able to do additions and repairs to get the rink back up to where it was when we first opened it. Hopefully, this will give its shine and appeal back to the people.”
The cost to skate is $5 for 45 minutes. The parks department provides the skates, which are hockey skates.
“We have to sharpen them every morning,” Parsons said.
The skating rink is open from 5-10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and from 1-11 p.m. Saturdays. Wednesdays and Sundays are reserved for private parties, Parsons said.
Parsons said part of the money from the A&P will be used to hang lights on business rooftops.
“We’re able to hire someone to hang the lights on the building tops because our crews are so shorthanded,” he said. “We’re busy doing everything else. We don’t have time to do extra stuff. Displays add up pretty quickly. We’re putting banners and brackets on the light poles at Spring Park and the downtown square.”
Searcy Mayor Kyle Osborne said the holiday decorations will be bigger and better this year.
“We’re putting up more lights and more decorations this year than we have in the past,” he said. “The skating rink … we’ve made it have better lighting this year.
“We’re just trying to do everything we can to make it better.”