Winter Wonderland may be looking for a new home

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports that Jonesboro's Winter Wonderland has been sold are greatly exaggerated.

Despite a local newspaper's report that the city has sold the building to Gearhead Outfitters owner Ted Herget... Mayor Harold Perrin told me, "It's NOT a done deal."

If you think putting up the family Christmas tree is a hassle. How would you like to assemble 16 years of displays every year at Christmas time. That may be what the Winter Wonderland may be facing.

Mayor Perrin said Herget has made an offer on the building but no firm decision from the city council has been made.

"The Building and Facilities committee voted to pass on to the council for December 21st for discussion to either accept or reject an offer we have pending. It has not been sold. The council has not approved it at all."

I asked Jody Ancona who helps run the display and has been in on the project for many years if they would be surprised if the building sells.

"We have heard for several years that it might be sold so it's not a total surprise to us."

Looking around at all the displays, many of which would be irreplaceable.  I asked Ancona has the disposition of all the decorations ever been discussed?

"We have talked about it but not seriously. We will have to get together and talk about it's future and we just don't know at this point."

Logistically speaking the disassembly and storage and seasonal reassembly could be a nightmare. Ancona says with the 2006 death of Donna Chetister who started the Wonderland a vital piece of the puzzle as to what to do next is gone.

"I would definitely like to see her dream kept alive and maybe there will be a civic group or somebody step forward and help keep it going."

Mayor Perrin has pledged his support. Perhaps a seasonal display at the fairgrounds and expansion to a winter event. Perrin says safety for families that visit the display on Main street is a primary concern. He feels that the fairgrounds would be a perfect venue.

"Rides and things like that. But I want to make sure to the parents and the children that the city of Jonesboro is going to continue to work with that program."

Ancona says she is philosophical about the pending sale. It is understood that the downtown area is blooming again.

"This has been a gift to us, this building for many years from the city. And we appreciate that time, it's been a good run. But we realize that everything has it's day in the sun and this may have been ours for downtown."

A lot will be determined when the City Council makes it's decision on the 21st.

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