Annual tree lighting ceremony this Saturday

Year after year, workers bring out the green branches to the downtown Conway Christmas Tree and layer by layer start putting it up.

 

The 54-foot tree takes a few weeks to be fully assembled with branches, ornaments and lights.

This year, the Conway Parks and Recreation Department began the process Nov. 1.

The final task for the tree is the annual lighting ceremony, which will take place this Saturday at 6 p.m.

“American Management Corporation’s Illuminate is Conway’s newest family tradition during the holidays,” the Facebook event states. “Illuminate features the lighting of Arkansas’ tallest Christmas tree, pictures with Santa, horse and carriage rides, miniature train rides and more.”

From 2-9 p.m., guests can see all the sights on top of the Ferris Wheel, $5 a person, the mini-Ferris Wheel for $3, climb aboard the Brothers’s Engine No. 1 Train ride for $3 or take a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown for $5 per person with a $10 per ride minimum.

Also new to the event are two selfie statues — a snowman and gingerbread man — to take photos with, Conway Area of Commerce’s Ed Linck said.

“If our chamber’s staff’s reaction to this is anything like what the public’s reaction to this is, it’s going to be a huge hit,” he said.

Sponsored by Delta Dental, from 2-7 p.m. participants can “Smile with Santa,” sip free coffee at the Arvest Warm-Up Tent and stroll through the artwalk on the streets of downtown Conway.

Palmer Music Company will present local musicians from 4-7 p.m. leading up to the lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.

“It’s very family friendly,” Linck said.

He said the event, which incorporates Small Business Saturday, encourages families to come out and shop local and eat at the many restaurants that Conway has to offer. After that, they can come to Rogers Plaza and enjoy the Christmas festivities.

“I feel like there’s a lot of anticipation for the tree lighting,” Linck said.

That, he said, is his favorite part … when the lights come on and seeing the reactions from the kids.

“That’s something I enjoy seeing every year,” Linck said.

He said they had around 2,500 people come out last year which led to a lot of foot traffic.

This year, Linck said, they are closing down parts of Oak Street to meet those needs and keep the area safe for everyone.

“We’re prepared this year for a big crowd,” he said. “It’s just best to shut it off so there’s no safety concerns.”

Most importantly, Linck said, they want families come out and have fun.

“We hope everybody has a good time,” he said. “We want this to become a family tradition for families in Central Arkansas.”

The event is presented by Conway Regional Health System, Arvest Bank, Petit Jean Meats, TriTechne and Miller Spectacular.

 

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