Christmas in the 501

There will be no shortage of opportunities in the weeks ahead to celebrate the Christmas season in the 501.

Many communities will participate in their annual Christmas parade with floats of all shapes and sizes. Churches, too, will host special events. 

Here is a sampling of the festivities that the 501 has to offer.


UACCM plans Night of Luminaries

The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton will celebrate its 13th annual Night of Luminaries on Thursday, Dec. 3. (Todd Owens photo) 

The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton invites the community to its 13th Annual Night of Luminaries on Thursday, Dec. 3, following the Morrilton Christmas parade.  This free, family-friendly event is expected to start around 6 p.m. or as soon as Santa Claus can make his way from the parade to UACCM.

To highlight the Timberwolf Crossing walking trail to the center of the UACCM campus, the more than 1,300 luminary bags decorated by Conway County children will line the sidewalks of the trail as well as a few portions of the roads in that area. This year’s route is one that families can walk through to view the artwork on the beautifully lit bags rather than the drive-through route used in past years. 

Participating schools and organizations include Conway County Center for Exceptional Children, Morrilton Elementary, Morrilton Primary, Nemo Vista Elementary, Riverview Baptist Christian School, Sacred Heart Elementary and Wonderview Elementary.

Santa will also be available to visit with children and give them a goody bag.

Check the UACCM Facebook page for last-minute updates in the event of inclement weather.

UACCM faculty and staff will serve cookies and hot cocoa to all who attend the event. For more information about Night of Luminaries, call 501-977-2084. 



The 2015 Searcy Holiday of Lights is presented by the Searcy Regional Economic Development Corporation (SREDC), in partnership with the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce and the City of Searcy

The Holiday of Lights is a celebration of all the festivities and attractions as well as shopping and dining destinations that Searcy offers throughout the holiday season.

Holiday of Lights festivities include the lights displays at Berryhill and Spring parks, Downtown Searcy, Harding University Lights on the Quad, the Pioneer Village Christmas Open House, the Searcy Christmas Parade, the Women for Harding Tour of Homes and many others.

Visit for more information. (See Page 8 for more information on the Pioneer Village Christmas Open House and the Searcy Christmas Parade.)

Women for Harding plans tour of homes

The Women for Harding will present its 33rd Annual Tour of Homes 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.

The event will feature the homes of:

Lance and Tracy Bailey – 3141 W. Country Club Road
Rick and Robbie Dunning – 118 Emerald Lake Drive
Marilyn Elliott – 2810 Kensington (The Dominion)
Steve and Donna England – 103 Kohl Drive (The Quarters)
Mike and Beth James – 1135 Bent Tree Lane (Saddlebrook)
Matt and Carolyn Nunnally – 702 W. Academy
Charlene Prock’s home and log cabin – 27 Harding Drive

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the event and can be purchased at each of the homes. For more information or to purchase tickets, call or stop by the Harding Alumni Relations Office at 501.279.4276.

The Searcy Art Gallery, located at 300 E. Race Ave., will also be open and featuring Beverly Austin’s exhibit “People, Places and Holidays Around the World.” Refreshments will be served.

The Living Nativity celebrates 11 years

Nearly 300 church members, exotic animals, handmade costumes and crafts set the scene for the Nativity. 

First Assembly of God in Searcy will host its annual Christmas event called The Living Nativity beginning Friday, Dec. 4.

The Christmas story comes alive as First Assembly transforms the outside of the church, located at 101 S. Benton St., to reflect the hustle and bustle of Bethlehem as it would have appeared in biblical times.

Nearly 300 church members, exotic animals, handmade costumes and crafts set the scene for the Nativity. Visitors come face-to-face with the Roman guards at the city gates before being swept into an authentic-looking and multidimensional experience of the first Christmas.  

The Living Nativity includes replicas of Herod’s palace, the inn with a “No vacancy sign,” multiple storefronts, the temple, tents of the three wise men and the manger. Church members portray Bethlehem townspeople as they would have appeared on the first Christmas night.

Children’s Pastor Mark Ferren is also the master craftsman of the town, constructing much of the Bethlehem scene from Styrofoam in phenomenal detail.

“Our church started The Living Nativity to share the true story of Christmas,” he said. “Every building, character and costume in the Nativity was handmade to portray the biblical account of the night Christ was born. We want to give visitors a genuine experience of the night that changed the world.”

According to Ferren, the church has welcomed more than 99,500 visitors from throughout Arkansas and neighboring states to The Living Nativity over the past 10 years. This year, the church will welcome the 100,000th guest — a milestone for the event.

The Living Nativity is free to the public and will be open the weekends of December 4-6 and December 11-13. It is open 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sundays.

Visitors can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while watching scenes from favorite Christmas movies projected onto large screens outside the church during their wait. The church also offers restrooms with changing stations for guests who have extended wait times.

For more information, please visit or contact Mark Ferren at 501.278.6354. The Living Nativity is part of the Searcy Holiday of Lights.


Tribute Tree lights honor loved ones over holidays

A new Tribute Tree was introduced last year by Conway Regional Health System. 

A light on the Conway Regional Tribute Tree provides the community with a meaningful way to show appreciations during the holiday season.

Since 1999, the Tribute Tree has provided donors with an opportunity to honor and remember loved ones and other important people in their lives with a light.

The Conway Regional Health Foundation will host a special tree lighting ceremony with refreshments, holiday music and treats for kids at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3. The ceremony will be located at the East Entrance of Conway Regional Medical Center by the fountain. The tree will remain lit until the end of the year.

Donations of lights and ornaments for the tree are being accepted throughout December.

Names of donors and their loved ones will be displayed in the East Lobby of the medical center and at For more information about honoring a special person this holiday season, call 501.513.5778 or visit

Central Arkansas Firefighters plan Christmas Boot Drive


The 18th annual Central Arkansas Firefighters Christmas Boot Drive will kick off 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 27.

Organizer Billie Carter urges individuals to join in the Christmas spirit of giving and help firefighters help the needy children of Central Arkansas.

“This campaign helps make possible a great Christmas for those in our community that are less fortunate,” he said.

This year, organizers are dedicating their campaign to the late Conway firefighter Wayne Hartness.

According to Carter, the Christmas Boot Drive has grown each year. “Last year, more than 1,100 children from more than 270 families were helped throughout the county, and every year those numbers grow.”

Since it started in 1998, the campaign has raised more than $444,000 and touched the lives of more than 12,000 children and their families. “It is all possible because of the loyal citizens of Faulkner County.”

Firefighters will be holding boots at several locations in Conway including Conway Commons, Conway Towne Center, Kroger (Salem Road), Hastings/First Service Bank on the Old Morrilton Highway; in Greenbrier at Harp’s, Fred’s, Cash Saver and Walmart Neighborhood Market; and in Vilonia at Hwy. 64 and 107.

Collection dates are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27; Saturday, Nov. 28; Saturday, Dec. 5; and Saturday, Dec. 12.

Boots have also been placed in businesses throughout Faulkner County and will be available through Friday, Dec. 11. A boot is located at the 501 LIFE office at 701 Chestnut St. in Downtown Conway. Toys will also be accepted at the 501 office.

Donations can also be mailed to Central Arkansas Firefighters Christmas Boot Drive, P.O. Box 2546, Conway AR 72033.