A power outage at the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park on Saturday temporarily interrupted the Enchanted Land of Lights and Legends display, causing confusion for many people who had hoped to see thousands of twinkling lights. Kerry Battle, director of the Pine Bluff Festival Association, said that a decision was made at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday to close the park after the outage.
“We deemed it to be a hazard because it was completely dark,” Battle said. “But we are back up and running now.”
The display is open nightly from 6-9 p.m.
On the Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau Facebook page, several people voiced their displeasure about Saturday’s closing. Battles said it had nothing to do with the park, “it was an Entergy outage.”
Courtney Chesire Wallace posted: “Very disappointed!! We got there at about 8:30, the lights were shut off and the road was barricaded.”
Karen Mercer House posted: “We also got there with small children that were excited to see the lights but disappointed when at 830 on Saturday night they were closed. Why do you advertise until 900 and close before that.”
In a previous interview, Battle said that the display is expected to attract 115,000 to 120,000 visitors this year. Billed as Arkansas’ largest drive-through display of lights, the attraction is gearing up for its 21st season. The Pine Bluff Festival Association is a nonprofit organization.
“We have more than 1.5 miles and 287 individual displays,” Battle said. “This year and last year we received help from the Department of Correction’s maintenance crew and four employees of the festival association. The DOC employees have been a tremendous help this year. We are elated to have them on board. We do not receive any profit. We do this to enrich the community and I am happy to be a part of it.”
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington flicked the switch to illuminate the displays of lights in a ceremony Nov. 21. The attraction will be open until Dec. 31. While admission to the display is free, those who donate $10 will receive an ornament.
Visitors come from throughout Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Battle intends to count the number of cars who drive into the park by using a device that clicks when a car passes it. One new attraction this year is the Santa Land Arch, which will stretch over the road. The Santa Land Arch is as big as four to five displays, Battle said.
“During this time we are dealing with changing bulbs and making sure electrical parts are working correctly,” Battle said. “We are hard at work. We are very happy to put it on. We want it to be bigger and better every year.”
Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park borders Lake Langhofer, an extension of the Arkansas River.
“We try to jazz up the displays with changing the color selection of the bulbs, moving displays within the park to new locations and adding bulbs,” Battle said. “We add at least one display each year.”