It's the holiday season, and local photographer David Yerby took to downtown Hot Springs earlier this month to capture a few iconic scenes found annually in the Spa City.
These holiday lights decorating downtown have become somewhat of a beloved tradition by locals and visitors. You may even have a favorite scene of your own; from the giant tree neighboring the Visitor's Center, to the whimsey found in Adair Memorial Park, to the forrest of lit trees in Arlington Park, to the more than 8-foot tall gingerbread house in the lobby of the Arlington Hotel. Check out some of Yerby's photos showcasing these, here:
As for how these scenes have come to be, it's all thanks to the Parks and Trails Department, Downtown Association of Hot Springs, the Arlington Hotel, the City’s Utility Department, Hot Springs Police Department, Visit Hot Springs, Seiz Signs and Arkansas philanthropist Jennings Osborne.
The Parks and Trails Department is who manages the installation, maintenance, upgrades, removal and storage of all the downtown displays, except Bathhouse Row and the County Courthouse, Parks and Trails Department Office Manager Kathleen Fason said.
"We begin the entire process in October with light, wire, panel checks of all displays and equipment," Fason said. "We always have all displays up by the Monday of Thanksgiving week for the Chili Cookoff and Lighting Ceremony. We usually have all displays removed and stored about two weeks into January."
"The City’s Utility Department and Seiz Signs have always generously assisted us with the fountain displays and the decorations at the Exchange Street Parking Deck," she said. "Those require a bucket truck and operator. Also, the Hot Springs PD assists us with the bagging of parking meters while we work on the installation and removal of displays.
"The downtown merchants host the chili cook off each year and that money assist the city with purchasing new displays and upgrading existing displays."
In the Arlington Hotel, the over 8-foot-tall gingerbread house has been assembled for more than 30 years in its lobby. Made by attaching gingerbread baked in the hotel's kitchen to a wooden frame, and Arlington employees decorating it with candy, the attraction is a sparkling, festive work of art.
Upon exiting the Arlington Hotel, you can't miss the forrest of lit trees in Arlington Park. Although provided by the Parks and Trails Department, the trees were originally donated by Arkansas philanthropist Jennings Osborne.
"Osborne began the display in 1986 in honor of his 6 year old daughter’s request to decorate their home for Christmas," Fason said. "He began the installation of the Arlington Lawn display in 1994.
"Years later, after losing a lawsuit, he was required to tone down his multi-acre display at his Little Rock, (Arkansas) home. In 2002, he donated the (full) Arlington Lawn display to Hot Springs and the Parks and Trails Department took over the annual installation with assistance from community service workers."
"Our department has made many upgrades to the displays over the years," she continued, "e.g., replaced the metal center beams with aluminum and changed to LED lights with new controllers for the animation. These upgrades have been funded by a partnership with the City of Hot Springs, the Downtown Association of Hot Springs and Visit Hot Springs."
Fason said Osborne died in 2011 at the age of 67, "but his displays are still spreading the joy of the holidays to millions every year!"