With her mother by her side, Sydnee Deshazier drifted across the skating rink. The mother-daughter duo smiled at one another as they both skated to the sounds of gospel melodies Sunday at the 2019 Mistletoe Magic: Believe in Miracles Christmas Festival at Saracen Landing.

With her mother by her side, Sydnee Deshazier drifted across the skating rink. The mother-daughter duo smiled at one another as they both skated to the sounds of gospel melodies Sunday at the 2019 Mistletoe Magic: Believe in Miracles Christmas Festival at Saracen Landing.
“We saw a lot of the advertising about it and we thought it would be a good idea to come out here to ice-skate,” said Portia Tymes, Sydnee’s mom. “She hadn’t ice-skated in maybe six years. I think she was three when she first ice-skated.”
For Tymes and her family, the event gave them an opportunity to not only have fun, but also support the city.
“I think it was really good for the city,” said Tymes of the free event. “To get on the Ferris wheel and look at the water and see the downtown, ice skate and hear some great music was really good.”
While some skated others waited in line for a chance to ride the Ferris wheel. Wyatt Shorter experienced his first time on the amusement park ride with his daughter.
“It was cold, but I liked it a lot,” he said. “I think the event was good for the community, because it gave people something to come out and do.”
A parade on Dec. 5 kicked off the Christmas Festival, which began on Dec. 6 and lasted through Dec. 8. According to Ryan Watley, Go Forward Pine Bluff CEO, Mistletoe Magic brought nearly a 1,000 people to Pine Bluff’s downtown.
“The turnout has been exceptional,” he said. “We’ve been counting the skating waivers and we’re close to 1, 000 people to come out here and skate. But, overall we’ve seen a lot of families come out and that’s the most important thing--- family-fun activities that people can come out and enjoy.”
Watley said the overwhelming support for the second annual event was a testament of the hard work being done for the city on behalf of Go Forward Pine Bluff.
“The vision has come to fruition,” he said. “It’s letting us know that we’re doing the right thing. When people come out and support it, it just encourages us to keep moving in the direction we’re going in. So, I’m satisfied with that.”
In addition to ice-skating and unlimited rides on the Ferris wheel, patrons were able to shop local as various vendors including Terick Jones, owner of Jones Canning Co., set up shop to sell goodies.
“Our whole product base of jams and jellies is all about homemade and locally sourced in the state of Arkansas,” said Jones. “Hometown, local events like this is what keeps us our business running. So, we love to support it.”
A big fan of local businesses, Mayor Shirley Washington supported those in attendance.
“I made it a point to buy something from every single vendor,” she said. “That was my goal just to say, ‘I’m wishing them well with their sales’.”
Washington says with the turnout at this year’s event, she’s excited for the future.
“It gives me inspiration to work harder, because from that inspiration comes that abundance of hope that we are truly moving our city forward and that we’re doing some things right” she said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction to bring that life and vitality into Pine Bluff.”