New train attraction added to Batesville lights display

The city plans to add a train ride to the attraction for 2018. (Source: KAIT)
The city plans to add a train ride to the attraction for 2018. (Source: KAIT)

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Although it's only June, some City of Batesville employees already have Christmas on their mind.

That's because the Christmas lights display at Riverside Park is a huge economic project for the town.

"While my crews were taking them down I was already planning for 2018," said Jonathan Abbott, supervisor of the City of Batesville's Landscaping Department.

He is in charge of the lights tour.

The event has grown every year, with more than 42,000 carloads of people traveling to Batesville to go through the winter wonderland in 2017.

The horse-drawn carriage rides are always a big hit at the event.

"It just kind of gives it that Christmas feeling with the bells on the horses and everything," Abbott said.

But with larger groups and more traffic, the wait times for those rides have been up to three hours.

"We've had such growth from this, people coming from out of town, we felt like we needed to do something to kind of speed that process up," Abbott said. "Maybe we might need to do something to accommodate more people and more families so I came up with the idea of a train so that's what our new thing is that we're working on this year."

The train would be pulled by a tractor that would look like an engine.

The train cars would be trailers that are retrofitted to a Christmas theme.

Abbott said it is a big investment, but the project should pay for itself in about three seasons with rides at $7.

He also hopes it will give a better experience to visitors who spend time in Batesville during the Christmas season.

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