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December 11, 2017
El Dorado News Times
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Holiday Light Extravaganza illuminates Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources

By Special to the News-Times
This article was published December 7, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

SMACKOVER — The Holiday Light Extravaganza at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources’ Oil Field Park is open for guests from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. each Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 23, said Pam Beasley, museum superintendent.

“This is an easy walking tour about a quarter mile long. There are also various photo opportunities including a photo booth inside the museum,” she said. “This is the ninth year for the event and the enthusiasm grows each year,” Beasley said.

She invited guests to “walk through the beautifully lit oil field park to see the sights of the holiday season. See a gingerbread land, a hatching baby dinosaur and a flying pig. Santa’s Rock Band is truly whimsical and the dancing snow men are a delight to watch. Santa’s Rock Band consists of Santa on guitar, Eddie the Elf on drums and Rudolph crooning all of the holiday favorites. Snow E. Mann and his dancing friend, Fros T`ay will be ‘cutting a rug.’ The pair might even remind you of Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly,” Beasley said.

“The forest with 24 sparking trees ‘dance’ to holiday music in a wonderful light show. New vignettes have been added and the number of lights has grown to over 200,000 throughout the park,” Beasley said.

“The Holiday Light Extravaganza started to pay homage to an event that took place in Smackover in 1935. That year Smackover had a Christmas decoration contest and a 13-year-old boy named Eddie Rouse won with his simple cross of two boards nailed together, painted white and wired with lights. Eddie won the contest every year until judges put it into its own category,” Beasley explained.

“A star athlete, Eddie went on to play football at Mississippi State College and things looked bright for Eddie Rouse. That was until America went to war and so did Eddie. While Eddie was off to war his mother, Katherine Rouse, continued the tradition of putting out ‘Eddie’s Cross’ for the Christmas season.

“Attached to General Patton’s Third Army as a paratrooper, Eddie was killed by a sniper’s bullet on Dec. 10, 1944. Eddie’s story was published in the Smackover Journal during the month of December for many years. Written by Don Lambert, former director of the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, the story of Eddie’s Cross would touch the heart of readers and give them time to reflect the true meaning of the season through the story of a boy and his cross,” Beasley said.

“I love the story of Eddie’s Cross! It shows the innocence of a boy who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. There’s something magical about viewing the lights with your family, just as it was in 1935. We are so pleased to bring this memory making event to Union County,” she said.

Admission to the AMNR Holiday Light Extravaganza is $10 per car and $2 extra per additional person over age 7. “After a romp through the park, visitors are invited to warm up in the museum gift shop with a cup of steaming hot chocolate. You’ll also have the opportunity to browse through the shop, in search of those last-minute, unique gift items,” the superintendent said.

Call the museum for additional information at 870-725-2877.

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