Downtown festival, parade and tree lighting usher in Christmas season
The Christmas season officially gets underway in Mountain Home this evening with a downtown festival, Christmas parade and tree-lighting ceremony.
The Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce will hold the the Mountain Home Town Christmas Festival tonight from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. around the Baxter County Courthouse square.
Some of the festival’s events include a footrace for a diamond pendant, the annual Christmas parade, and the lighting of a 30-foot Christmas tree on the Veterans Plaza. Other festival attractions will include a photo booth for pictures with Santa, vendor booths, food trucks and live music.
Chamber Vice President Angela Broome said the festival will include 17 vendors lined up along the E. 6th street side of the courthouse square. Three food trucks will be lined up along the S. Baker Street side of the square, selling hamburgers, fried pies, gourmet coffee, pretzels and more.
Live music for the event will be provided on the courthouse steps by Daybreak, the Mountain Home High School Bella Voce Singers, Malinda Calloway and Tim Martin with the First Christian Church and the Cotter School Singers.
Santa’s Diamond Dash will be held at 5:30 p.m., with the parade rolling through downtown at 6 p.m. and the tree-lighting ceremony to follow after the parade.
The stretch of highway encompassing the evening’s parade route (from 9th Street to Hospital Drive) will be closed to traffic at 5:30 p.m. The downtown area will be closed to traffic until the festival closes.
Participants in the Diamond Dash will be vying to win either a diamond pendant necklace or a diamond charm bracelet provided by Gregory Jewelers. The diamond dashers will run a one-mile course that begins at Clark Office Supplies and ends at Hospital Drive, essentially running the Christmas parade route in reverse. The first-place winner will receive the diamond pendant while the diamond bracelet will be awarded to the runner demonstrating the most Christmas spirit.
Registration and check-in for the Diamond Dash will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the First Security Bank ATM parking lot on E. 9th Street. Entry fee for the Dash is $20 per runner, with all participants receiving T-shirts and gift bags. Anytime Fitness is serving as the Diamond Dash’s organizer.
The Dash’s winners will be announced on the courthouse stage before the parade starts.
This year’s parade theme is “Santa’s Workshop,” and Broome said she expects the parade to one of the largest in recent memory.
“We just added three more entrants Thursday, and they all have multiple vehicles,” she said. “It’s looking like we will have 70-plus cars, trucks and floats this year.”
Participation in the Christmas parade is free to Chamber members and $25 for other entries. All entries will be judged against one another with first-, second- and third-place winners being announced afterwards.
Parade participants should stay away from having one or more Santas on their floats, Broome said. There’s only one official Santa, Broome said, and he always rides in the final float in the parade.
“We just don’t want to confuse any little kids,” she said.
The First Security Bank Tree Lighting will be held following the conclusion of the parade. Officials will flip the switch to illuminate a 30-foot Christmas tree displayed at the Veterans Plaza. The tree’s height should rival that of the Baxter County Courthouse, which has three floors of offices above ground.
First Security Bank is also sponsoring charity trees that will be scattered around the Veterans Plaza during the festival. Each tree will represent a different local charity and will have a drop box for festival attendees to donate cash or gift cards to that specific charity.
Some of the local organizations that will be represented with charity trees are Alpha House, Gamma House, Kindness Inc., the Literacy Council, the Mountain Home Food Basket, Santa to the Seniors, Serenity Inc., the Bob Davis Veterans Center and The CALL of Baxter County.
Rainfall is expected overnight across the Twin Lakes Area, with precipitation forecast to taper off this morning. The temperature should be in the low 40s when the festival kicks off at 4 p.m.
“We always have a great turnout for the Christmas parade, so we felt like this was the next step,” Broome said. “This should be a great night to come out, do some Christmas shopping, get something to eat and then watch the parade and Christmas tree lighting.”
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