Written by Sophie Rossitto | Photo by Jillian Jarvis
Workers were on track last week to finish putting up the artificial skating rink in Spring Park as preparations for Searcy’s annual Christmas lighting program were underway, members of the planning committee said.
Holiday of Lights comprises a variety of events across Searcy, including light displays that will illuminate the city starting on Nov. 23, Kristi Thurmon, a member of the Holiday of Lights Committee, said.
Mike Parsons, a member of the committee and head of Searcy’s Parks and Recreation department, said the group, which consists entirely of volunteers, plans to add new events such as an outdoor craft show this year to bring in more visitors and Searcy residents.
“This year, we’re going for more of an experience instead of just an event,” Parsons said.
Although the holiday festivities are in the planning phases, Thurmon said workers were wrapping up main preparations for the skating rink last week. Parsons said workers from his department began putting lights up around the city about three weeks ago.
“As you can imagine, it’s a big job to get all the decorations out for Christmas, so they have to start early in October,” Thurmon said.
This year, workers will add more lights to Berryhill and Spring Parks and will light up parts of Yancey Park for the first time ever, Thurmon said.
On Sept. 28, Searcy’s Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission gave $55,000 in tax revenue to the Holiday of Lights Committee and Searcy Parks and Recreation to put toward the festival, according to reporting done by The Daily Citizen. Amy Burton, a committee member and director of Main Street Searcy, said the money will help cover the costs of maintaining the Christmas lights and replacing some decorations.
Thurmon, who has coordinated efforts to promote Holiday of Lights, said some of the grant money will go toward advertising, including efforts to bring people into Searcy from out of town.
Burton said a series of Holiday of Lights events will take place in downtown Searcy on Dec. 4, including the craft show, a chocolate gravy cook off and a Polar Express party featuring a movie for kids in the Rialto Theater. The festivities will culminate with the Christmas parade that night, Parsons said.
“Now more than ever because so many people did not really get out and about a lot during the last holiday season because of COVID, we are really working to bring more and more events into our Holiday of Lights activities,” Burton said.
She also said that for the first time, the Holiday of Lights Committee will collaborate with Women of Harding on Dec. 11 to bring the latter group’s princess and superhero party to Berryhill Park. The event will feature people dressed as characters from Toy Story, Frozen and Lego Man and will end with a showing of the movie “Frozen.”
Thurmon said other upcoming events include bus tours of historic sites and holiday lights in Searcy, as well as a selfie station scavenger hunt starting the weekend of Thanksgiving.