Turning on the lights for the Holiday of Lights tonight is being kept low-key, but “the magic of Christmas” will be on full display this year, according to Holiday of Lights Committee Chairman Kristi Thurmon.

“This year, our goal was to bring back the magic of Christmas since we weren’t able to do very many events last year and we wanted to try to do everything we could to get people to come to Searcy,” Thurmon said, “... so that’s why we added the big event on the [Dec.] 4th, Jolly Jubilee – it’s a day full of events that starts with the chocolate gravy cook-off and the Fun Run and so many things to do that day and it will end with the parade at 6 [p.m.] and then we even have a Christmas light bus tour that’s at 7.”

While no big public lighting ceremony is planned when the lights go on tonight at Berryhill and Spring parks and in the downtown area, skating will kick off the holiday season at the synthetic ice rink at Spring Park at 5 p.m. It runs to 10 p.m. and admission is $5 per person for 45 minutes. This week, skating also starts Wednesday at 2 p.m. and Friday at 5 p.m.

The Holiday of Lights Committee also is trying to “put out information on everything that is related to Christmas. We don’t have anything to do with the Searcy Lion Foundation Turkey Trot this week but we want to help them promote that [5K] this week [8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning at the White County Courthouse].” She said the committee also is helping get the word out on Harding University’s Christmas events, such as its lighting ceremony planned for 6 p.m. Monday.

However, the Jolly Jubilee on Dec. 4 and A Berry Merry Christmas on Dec. 11 are the main events for the Holiday of Lights this year.

Christmas light tours are being offered both nights. Tickets cost $10 and can be obtained by going to searcychristmas.eventbrite.com. A daytime historic Christmas tour also is being offered on the same dates.

The transportation for the tours will be on a 40-passenger bus and White County Historical Society President Shelly Churchwell will be the tour guide. The tour begins at First United Methodist Church. Stops will include Berryhill Park and Harding University’s front lawn.

The Holiday of Lights Committee is also co-hosting “It’s A Wonderful KLIFE, Janett Crain Fun Run” on Dec. 4 and all ages can participate. Registration is at 8 a.m. and the start time is 9 a.m. The Searcy Holiday of Lights Facebook page has more information about advance registration There will be a costume contest with first-, second- and third-place medals.

The World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff will take place that day from 9-11 a.m. on the east side of the White County Courthouse. The cost is $5 to enter “chocolate gravy haven,” a taste of each of the entrees. Those wanting to enter the contest may send an email to searcyholidayoflights@gmail.com to get a registration form.

A Polar Express Pajama Party takes place at 10 a.m. at the Rialto Theater as a Main Street Searcy event.

“This is the second time,” Thurmon said. “We didn’t get to do it last year but we did it in 2019 and it’s just a time to bring out your kids, wear their pajamas, drink some hot chocolate and watch ‘Polar Express’ in our historic Rialto Theater. It’s just fun. The kids will get a bell on the way out as a little souvenir.”

The Craft Fair happens from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. the same day, and the White County Christmas 4 Kids Toy Drive is also taking place that day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Sunrise Motorsports. There will be monster truck rides, an auto cross race and face painting.

For the Christmas Parade at 6 p.m., Thurmon said all of the guidelines are on the Holiday of Lights Facebook page.

Dec. 11, according to Thurmon, “is all about kids, so Dec. 4 has something for everyone and Dec. 11 is all about kids for Christmas. We are going to have all the princesses and the toy characters from ‘Toy Story’ in the [Berryhill] park. You can also meet Santa and we’re going to show ‘Toy Story’ in the park after that.”

She said “one of the cool things” that has been added this year is a scavenger hunt. The paper sheet for it may be picked up at the Carmichael Community Center, 801 S. Elm St.

“It’s just got all different kind of fun Santa’s to find on the sheet and you can turn it in and win tickets to the Rialto,” Thurmon said. “The Carmichael has extended hours so people can turn them in after work and after school.

“The reason I’m involved in Searcy Holiday of Lights – I’ve been involved since it came back in 2016 – my reason is I was here in the ’90s, I grew up in Searcy. I remember going to Berryhill and seeing all the lights there when it was here before and just loved it; have always just been a huge Christmas fan. So yeah, I was very excited to help bring it back in 2016 and then just trying to make it better every year.”

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