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Christmas cheer is officially in the air after First Security Bank held its third annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in front of a record-breaking crowd at Veteran’s Plaza in downtown Mountain Home Dec. 3.
The Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas parade followed the tree lighting ceremony.
It’s just a way of showing that we’re here for the community.Teresa Wehmeyer
“It’s just a way of showing that we’re here for the community,” said Teresa Wehmeyer, vice president of marketing and development for First Security Bank. “It’s just expanded and grown. This year we had an absolutely humongous crowd.”
Wehmeyer said the success of this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the parade was only possible with the help of the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce and the city’s maintenance crew.
The setup for the big event is overseen by Wehmeyer and involves First Security Bank’s Stan Huan, volunteers, and Mountain Home’s maintenance crew headed by Arnold Knox, Director for Mountain Home’s Street Department.
Wehmeyer said putting the tree together would not be possible without the city’s bucket truck.
“Our maintenance man, Stan, does a remarkable job,” Wehmeyer said. “He does whatever I need him to do. But the guys who put the tree together are mainly the city of Mountain Home guys under Arnold Knox. They bring the bucket truck down because it’s a 26-foot tree.”
The lighting ceremony featured nine additional trees that volunteers decorated. Lights and Christmas ornaments hung from the trees in Veterans Plaza as families took part in a festival across the street.
Fake snow rained down from the top of Gregory Jewelers, who helped with the Nativity scene. Chad Merriman lit the tree on behalf of First Security Bank after leading the crowd in prayer.
“The bank is the one that funds that. I’m very appreciative of their help,” said Mountain Home Mayor Hillrey Adams. “The fact that we’ve got something for people to do. The Christmas parade. The Chamber putting a festival on. It’s just a great thing to see.”
This year, the Chamber added a festival that featured ax throwing, food trucks, and horse carriage rides that ran throughout Friday and Saturday in addition to Friday evening’s parade.
This year’s parade featured 47 different entries that competed against each other for the title of best float. The winner of the parades first place spot was Walmart, second place to Louis Auto, and third place went to the students at the Mountain Home FFA.
“I think it was fantastic,” said Dani Pugsley, President of the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce. “I think we possibly set a record crowd. There’s no way to tell exactly how many people were out there, but there were definitely thousands of people. I think the weather definitely helped us out a little bit.”
Reaction from the crowd was positive that night, with many in a festive mood as children danced on the sidewalk to Christmas music before dipping into the road to pick up candy.
After the parade, the festivities moved over to Arkansas State University – Mountain Home, which hosts the Coulter Celebration of Lights, as families took a drive through the city’s new attractions.
“This is the type of stuff that you want to see happening in the community,” Adams said. “We’re blessed that we live where we live and that folks can enjoy those types of activities, and all the little ones can enjoy stuff like that.”