Hol­i­day Light Ex­trav­a­ganza il­lu­mi­nates Arkansas Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral Re­sources

El Dorado News-Times - - Local -

SMACK­OVER — The Hol­i­day Light Ex­trav­a­ganza at the Arkansas Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral Re­sources’ Oil Field Park is open for guests from 5:30 un­til 8:30 p.m. each Fri­day and Satur­day night through Dec. 23, said Pam Beasley, mu­seum su­per­in­ten­dent.

“This is an easy walk­ing tour about a quar­ter mile long. There are also var­i­ous photo op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clud­ing a photo booth in­side the mu­seum,” she said. “This is the ninth year for the event and the en­thu­si­asm grows each year,” Beasley said.

She in­vited guests to “walk through the beau­ti­fully lit oil field park to see the sights of the hol­i­day sea­son. See a ginger­bread land, a hatch­ing baby di­nosaur and a fly­ing pig. Santa’s Rock Band is truly whim­si­cal and the dancing snow men are a delight to watch. Santa’s Rock Band con­sists of Santa on gui­tar, Ed­die the Elf on drums and Ru­dolph croon­ing all of the hol­i­day fa­vorites. Snow E. Mann and his dancing friend, Fros T`ay will be ‘cut­ting a rug.’ The pair might even re­mind you of Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly,” Beasley said.

“The for­est with 24 spark­ing trees ‘dance’ to hol­i­day mu­sic in a won­der­ful light show. New vi­gnettes have been added and the num­ber of lights has grown to over 200,000 through­out the park,” Beasley said.

“The Hol­i­day Light Ex­trav­a­ganza started to pay homage to an event that took place in Smack­over in 1935. That year Smack­over had a Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tion con­test and a 13-year-old boy named Ed­die Rouse won with his sim­ple cross of two boards nailed to­gether, painted white and wired with lights. Ed­die won the con­test ev­ery year un­til judges put it into its own cat­e­gory,” Beasley ex­plained.

“A star ath­lete, Ed­die went on to play foot­ball at Mis­sis­sippi State Col­lege and things looked bright for Ed­die Rouse. That was un­til Amer­ica went to war and so did Ed­die. While Ed­die was off to war his mother, Kather­ine Rouse, con­tin­ued the tra­di­tion of putting out ‘Ed­die’s Cross’ for the Christ­mas sea­son.

“At­tached to Gen­eral Pat­ton’s Third Army as a para­trooper, Ed­die was killed by a sniper’s bul­let on Dec. 10, 1944. Ed­die’s story was pub­lished in the Smack­over Jour­nal dur­ing the month of De­cem­ber for many years. Writ­ten by Don Lam­bert, for­mer di­rec­tor of the Arkansas Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, the story of Ed­die’s Cross would touch the heart of read­ers and give them time to re­flect the true mean­ing of the sea­son through the story of a boy and his cross,” Beasley said.

“I love the story of Ed­die’s Cross! It shows the in­no­cence of a boy who paid the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice for his coun­try. There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about view­ing the lights with your fam­ily, just as it was in 1935. We are so pleased to bring this mem­ory mak­ing event to Union County,” she said.

Ad­mis­sion to the AMNR Hol­i­day Light Ex­trav­a­ganza is $10 per car and $2 ex­tra per ad­di­tional per­son over age 7. “Af­ter a romp through the park, vis­i­tors are in­vited to warm up in the mu­seum gift shop with a cup of steam­ing hot choco­late. You’ll also have the op­por­tu­nity to browse through the shop, in search of those last-minute, unique gift items,” the su­per­in­ten­dent said.

Call the mu­seum for ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion at 870-725-2877.

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