Arkansas Christmas Memories

Postcard courtesy Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office

What are your favorite memories of Christmas in Arkansas? Please share them with our Facebook friends. Mine would have to be the lighting of the Arkansas State Capitol and the lights down Main Street. When I was a kid, and I’m really dating myself here, the lighting of the Capitol and Main Street decorations was just about all the holiday activities I remember taking place in Little Rock

At that time, the Capitol was outlined in green and red lights. The dome would alternate between green lights and red lights. Not taking anything away from the present day decorations at all but the green and red alternating lights were so pretty. I searched and searched trying to find a photo.  Thanks to the diligent efforts of Terri Davidson and Historian David Ware with Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office, they found an old postcard photo.  It gives you some idea of what it looked like then.

Photo use courtesy Raymond Merritt

The downtown lights were swagged across Main Street from west to east, making a colorful canopy for shoppers and visitors. You could stand at the south end and see nothing but beautiful lights all the way north to the Arkansas River. Each light pole had a special lighting decoration, although I don’t remember what they were. You’ll still find this type of lighting in small towns across the state. I wasn’t able to find any photos but I did locate this image of Main Street in 1960.

At that time, Main Street was where the Little Rock Christmas Parade took place.  If my fuzzy, aging memory serves me at all, I believe the parade started in North Little Rock, coming over the Main Street Bridge.  That may have been the Livestock Show Parade; I’m not sure.

This year’s Big Jingle Jubilee Parade and State Capitol lighting ceremony take place Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m.  Starting point for the 3 p.m. parade is 2nd and Broadway in downtown Little Rock. The route continues south on Broadway to Capitol Avenue, then heads west on Capitol, ending in front of the Arkansas State Capitol building. Taking part in this holiday tradition are bands, floats, animals, marching units and the grand marshals – Santa and Mrs. Claus. At parade’s end around dusk, Secretary of State Mark Martin hits the switch that lights up the state’s seat of government. Santa will be in the rotunda to visit with children and there will be various groups providing Christmas music.

Make plans to attend. It’s a great opportunity to make some new Christmas memories.

Posted in Children, Christmas, Holiday Lights, Holiday Open House, Holidays, Little Rock
2 comments on “Arkansas Christmas Memories
  1. Juliann says:

    I, too, have memories of the lights at Christmas. We lived in Lonoke, and it took a long time to travel Highway 70 to Little Rock in our station wagon in the early 50’s. We watched the lighting of the Capitol and walked around to see the manger scene. Then we got to drive around and see everyone’s lights on their houses. We got to come into town with my parents and grandmother to do shopping downtown once or twice before Christmas. We loved to go to Blass, but we did all the shops before the grown-ups got tired. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, my husband and I would always go to see the lighting of the Capitol. That was always a way to mark the beginning of the season for me.

  2. Barbara says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how gorgeous the Capitol building looked at Christmas! In the early fifties, when I was a little girl, my parents would take me to see th manger scene at the top of the stairs of the Capitol building. The music would be playing very our and beautiful and the manger scene was the most gorgeous thing I had every seen. I also loved downtown at Christmas. MM Cohn and so many beautiful stores all decorated and gorgeous. My Mom would buy me a bag of chocolate coins covered in gold and in a gold net bag. I was soooo happy.

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