Of the 44 entries in the Pine Bluff Christmas Parade Thursday night, several were very elaborate, including Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s.
It featured a flatbed semi-truck and trailer with a large display of Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer.
“Wow!” exclaimed 7-year-old Dexter Jones of Pine Bluff, who came with his aunt, Tina Jenkins, as he examined the float creeping by. The truck’s air horn gave out several low-toned bellows as the young boy eagerly waved.
“This is a really good parade this year,” Jenkins said. “It’s moving a little slow, but that’s fine.”
Hundreds braved cold temperatures and rain to attend the event, which kicked off a series of holiday celebrations in the city.
After the parade, the festivities continued at Saracen Landing, where the official start for “Mistletoe Magic: Believe in Miracles” was held.
Attractions throughout the weekend will include an ice-skating rink, a 31-foot-tall Snowman Bounce House, ornament making for kids and Santa. There will also be a life-size Snow Globe that doubles as a photo booth.
Food truck vendors will be parked at Lake Saracen with warm food and hot chocolate throughout the event.
The UAPB Jazz Band will provide entertainment from 7-9 p.m. tonight as retail vendors display their wares on the pavilion. Another attraction will include soup and desserts by Chef Jamie McAfee from 5-9 p.m.
The festival will continue from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission to the festival is free. There will be a $5 skate rental fee and a $5 fee to get inside the Snow Globe. Waivers must be signed by all skaters; minors must have waivers signed by a parent or guardian.
The skating rink hosted dozens of area school children on Thursday. Shortly after the parade, Samuel Ross and his son, Jeff, 12, were eyeing the rink, thinking about giving it a go.
“It looks like fun, but I’ve never done it before,” Jeff Ross said.
“This is really a neat thing they are doing for the holidays,” Samuel Ross said. “We are looking good in Pine Bluff right now."
Saturday’s entertainment will begin with the Highway 49 Blues Band from 4:30-6:30 p.m., and the On Call Band from 7-9 p.m. The Pine Bluff Community Choir will round out the entertainment Sunday afternoon with familiar Christmas carols.
“The decorations committee, headed by Julie Bridgforth and Jodie Jolly, are currently busy transforming Saracen Landing into a Christmas Wonderland. You will not believe your eyes, unless you ‘Believe in Miracles,’” a news release said. “City and GFPB officials are extremely excited and pleased with the participation and excitement throughout the community.”
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington said that “The holidays are a time for making memories with family. We want Mistletoe Magic to be a part of those memories for years to come.”
“Mistletoe Magic: Believe in Miracles” is a presentation of the Delta Celebration Series, sponsored in part by Go Forward Pine Bluff and Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation. Community sponsors include Relyance Bank, M.K. Distributors, and Sissy’s Log Cabin.
Free parking will be available at Regional Park’s Softball Complex with the City’s Transit Department providing a shuttle on the Trolley Car to and from Saracen Landing.