Everyone is buzzing about Conway's Christmas tree. Most people were criticizing the cost of the tree. It cost the city over $130,000. Funds for it came from Conway's prepared food tax (the "hamburger tax"). It's an artificial tree that the city says it should last 10 years. Over 10 years, is $130,000 too much? They hope the tree will bring some Christmas shoppers to Conway.
Those who aren't talking about the price of the tree are talking about the size of the tree. It might be the largest artificial "tree" in the Midwest. There is some contention about what is considered a tree, but I am with those only counting "trees" with artificial limbs. It wins if you count that. Most of the trees that are larger are made of metal and lights only. The Conway tree is 54-feet tall, and 27-feet wide. It has 19,000 lights and ornaments on it.
There are more photos below the break. That flash of pink in the photo is me, shown for scale (you can click to get a bigger shot). To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in it. It's a pretty cool tree, and the lights and ornaments are neat, but I'm not sure it lived up to the hype. I do think it will be a cool place to get some family photos and show your kids the wonders of Christmas
If you want to see a really cool tree closer to home, head to the Promenade on Chenal. They have a neat tree that has a Trans-Siberian Orchestra-like light show to music. I'll post photos later this week.
If you want to see the Conway tree, it's in downtown Conway, on Oak Street (in Rogers Plaza, the GPS address is 900 Oak Street, but it's right as you enter the historic downtown area).
This is the weekend that Little Rock gets into the holiday spirit. We have our parade, jingle bell run and Capitol lighting downtown. This is the only time of year you can see fireworks over the Capitol building. That is, unless it snows and sleets this weekend. They normally cancel some of the festivities for weather. You can check the complete list of holiday events here.
- The Collectors Show and Sale at the Arkansas Arts Center displays lots of art pieces starting December 6. The pieces are for sale and will be on display until January 5th.
- The Arkansas Craft Guild's Christmas Showcase is worth checking out, even if you don't need any gifts. They have some neat stuff on display. It's Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- KSSN's Toy Hill is this weekend (Dec 6 and 7) with their motorcycle parade and toy donation box.
- Pet Portrait's with Santa at Just Dogs in the Promenade on Chenal are this weekend (it benefits the Humane Society).
This weekend is more than black Friday shopping, though I'm sure a bunch of us will be out there battling for deals. Don't forget about small business Saturday.
There are lots of holiday events going on this weekend:
- The holiday celebration and tree lighting at the Promenade on Chenal are November 30. The celebration starts at 10 a.m. and they have events until the tree lighting at 6 p.m. More info.
- The Capitol Hotel is lighting their tree and starting their holiday festivities Sunday, December 1. It's at 5 p.m.
- It's the Christmas Frolic at the Historic Arkansas Museum from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday.
- For more info (and more Christmas events) check out my holiday event pages.
- Mountain Rendezvous at Petit Jean State Park is from the 29-30 - They'll have some demonstrations and talks about primitive life in Arkansas.
Suhana, a Malayan tiger at the Little Rock Zoo, became a mother to four cubs on November 12,2013. Malayan tigers are critically endangered in the wild. Fewer than 500 tigers remain. Because of their status in the wild, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) keeps close watch on their breeding at zoos. The SSP is like a dating service for endangered species. It matches up potential mates.
The interesting thing about this match is that SSP saw that the Little Rock Zoo and the Baton Rouge Zoo both had Malayan tiger siblings. We had two brothers, Intan and Liku, and they had two sisters. We switched. We sent Intan to Baton Rouge, and they sent Suhana here.
They were introduced earlier this summer and, apparently, hit it off. I haven't heard if Baton Rouge has introduced Intan to his potential mate yet, or if they have cubs (no press releases about cubs were found).
It will probably be spring before you can go see them in person. These little guys won't be big enough to go outside for at least a few months. I am sure if you follow the Zoo's social media pages (Facebook), they will keep you to date. They have cameras installed in the tiger den and the nest box to keep close tabs on their health and progress.
Photo courtesy of Little Rock Zoo via press release.
Every year in late November, trumpeter swans decide to make a pit stop on Lake Magness in Heber Springs. At first, there are just a handful of them. Currently, they're beginning to show up at the lake. By the end of March, the lake will have been visited by over a hundred of these huge, 30 lb birds with an 8-foot wingspan.
Magness is as far south as these swans ever go. They're more common in the Midwest and Alaska. They seem to like Heber Springs, though, and return every year.
The best time to see them is the evenings or the morning, but there are swans in the lake all the time. They normally wander around being swans during the day, but in the late afternoon and early in the morning, they are more apt to fly. A 30 pound bird in flight is an amazing site.
Turkeys are going on sale this week, like they always do. So, why not pick up one for someone in need when you go to pick out your own bird? The Little Rock Compassion Center is looking for help to put together 500 Thanksgiving baskets for the low-income families the organization serves.
They need all the traditional Thanksgiving meal items, but they were very low on frozen turkeys, they needed about 250 of them last week. If you want to make a donation, donations can be dropped off at the Compassion Center's office at 3618 W. Roosevelt, Little Rock, 72204. Volunteers can call (501) 296-9114 to schedule a time to help out. Food baskets will be distributed Thanksgiving week.
It's the time of the year where it's too cold to do much outside, plus the holiday shopping and preparations (Thanksgiving is next week) are underway. There are a few things going on. Some of them are holiday related. The Museum School sale is this weekend at the Clear Channel Metroplex. It's Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Moscow Ballet is here with their presentation of the Nutcracker. More holiday events.
Bill Carter, a former secret service agent, is appearing at Oxford America (1300 Main Street) to talk about the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.
The Razorbacks are at War Memorial Stadium this weekend. Avoid that area unless you have to go there.
This is also the weekend that Wild Winter Country opens. They'll have snowtubing, snowball throwing and more. They have a snow machine to help kids and grownups have some winter fun. More info.
I just checked out our new Bass Pro Shop because they had the Capitol Christmas Tree on the lot, making its way through the states on the way to the Capitol in Washington, DC. It was a fun event with hot cocoa, cookies, music and even Santa inside the Bass Pro shop to meet your kids. Santa will be there until Christmas, but the tree has headed to its next stop.
It's that time of year again when I'm getting lots of questions about where to buy your turkey dinner. My top pick is Burge's for the actual bird, but I have a list of several other local and not so local locations that will supply anything from turkey to the whole meal.
If you're looking to get a bird, be sure to call and order them pretty soon. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and most locations don't have last minute pick-up. Catering to You and Diane's are just a few of the great places to get great side dishes.
Here's the list, and if you know of another great place add a comment!
Holiday House is this weekend. This event, put on by the Junior League of Little Rock, is the opening to the holiday shopping season. They have lots of neat and unique gift items and decorator items to browse. Holiday House is Thursday through Saturday at the Statehouse Convention Center. Check out the schedule on their website.
It's also free admission day at the Clinton Presidential Center Saturday. They celebrate their anniversary every year by giving everyone free admission. It's a great excuse to check out their newest exhibits or visit the center for the first time.
Besides these top picks, here are a few other weekend events.
- McCain Mall Breakfast with Santa: Santa is making his way to McCain mall this weekend and kicking it off with a breakfast. It's $5.
- Bass Pro Santa: The Bass Pro just opened, and they brought Santa with them. From now until Christmas, Santa's Wonderland will be open.
- Civil War Family Day Exploring the Little Rock of 1863: The Old State House has Over 30 costumed interpreters that will portray military and civilian life in Little Rock after the retreat of the Confederate Army in the fall of 1863. The events are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Rock N Roll Derby Bout at Skate World: A roller derby at skate world. Proceeds go to the Arkansas Food Bank.More info.
- Holidays in Hillcrest: Saturday and Sunday, Hillcrest Merchants will feature open houses, specials, music and prizes.
- Opus Ball XXIV: The gala is Saturday from 6 p.m. until midnight at the Capital Hotel. This ball benefits the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's music education programs. It has a silent auction, dinner and live music.
- Dutch Oven Cooking: Pinnacle Mountain State Park is hosting a dutch oven cooking lesson. It starts at 2 p.m.
- Nutcracker Banquet and Fall Flowers at Garvan Gardens: It's a great time to visit Garvan Gardens, but this weekend they have the dancers from Ballet Arkansas to present a short performance (not the whole ballet). Lunch is included in the $45 ticket. Call 501-262-9300.
- Full Moon Walk: The Big Dam Bridge Full Moon Walk
is a free walk, but they are collecting food for the Arkansas Rice Depot. It starts at 6:00 p.m.