Lights of the Delta Underway

NOVEMBER 19, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:30pm

BLYTHEVILLE, AR - As drivers approach Gosnell on Highway 151, they are now greeted by a lit sign. Colorful lights off in the distance twinkle, tantalizing them to drive closer.

"We're located on 40 acres. It's a mile and a half drive through. We've got over 5 million lights on the sight and we've got 26 big, major motion displays," said George Hubbard, Co-chairperson for Lights of the Delta.

Displays here are changing from one holiday season to the next.

Hubbard explained, "We've brought back a display that we haven't put up in two years, and it's the cross country skiers, so that's another display that people haven't seen in for a while, and it'll be in a different location than it was two years ago."

The most well-known display is Christmas in a Painted House, based on John Grisham's book, A Painted House. Every year Hubbard tries to add something new to the display.

Kaitlyn Bryce, an 8 year old visitor back from last year, said, "It's pretty, and every year I come out here with my mom."

This year's addition is called Santa Express.

"It's a 75 foot long train with Santa in the engineering booth and the elves and the deer all riding along waving and the wheels moving. You see the smoke come out," Hubbard added.

The real Santa is on sight Friday and Saturday nights at the souvenir stand. It's a favorite stop for children.

Bryce said it's her favorite part of the display, "...get hot chocolate and take a picture with Santa Claus."

Organizers work year-round on the Lights of the Delta; marketing the event to bus tour companies. Each visitor spends anywhere from $10 to $100 dollars in Blytheville as a result.

"We have about 60,000 visitors each year, and they come from all over the country," said Hubbard.

Bulbs start going up August 1st; long before the chill of winter is in the air, and the line of light-gazers starts forming.

Hubbard explained, "All we really want to do is invite people to come on out and get in the Christmas mood. It's a great place to bring your family, especially if you've got out of town visitors, and you're looking for something really unique to do."

The Lights of the Delta continues through December 28th. You can drive through Monday through Thursday from 5:30pm until 9:30pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5:30pm until 10:00pm. The Parade of Trees located in the Kress Building is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am until 5:00pm. On Sunday, you can stop by from 1:00pm until 5:00pm. The lights in downtown Blytheville are also on display.