State readies for 'Holiday Lights'

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LITTLE ROCK -- Some 70 communities, from DeWitt (population 3,400) to Little Rock, will participate in the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights program Nov. 20 to Dec. 29.

In an interview, Joe David Rice, tourism division director for the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, said six locations were added to the program in 2000: Berryville, DeQueen, Greenwood, Jersey, Marion and Sheridan.

In Jersey, the "Christmas on the Ouachita" celebration will focus on a parade of decorated boats plying the Ouachita River, he said.

Fayetteville's celebration involves hundreds of miles of lights, carriage rides and a Jingle Bell Jog.

Elsewhere, Fort Smith and Jonesboro will each glow with 1 million lights; more than 2 million, including animated and floating displays will be found around Harrison, and some 3.5 million will shine at Pine Bluff.

On Dec. 2, Santa will parachute into tiny DeWitt, 85 miles southeast of Little Rock.

In Little Rock, the state capitol building will be lighted Dec. 2, and some 200,000 lights will decorate the River Market, where ice skating will be available.

Agents and operators will find the highest demand for hotel rooms tied to holiday events in Bentonville, Eureka Springs, Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Hot Springs, Rice said.

Since last year, Arkansas began offering a year-round incentive payment of $25 to both group leaders and tour operators for each night their passengers occupy at least 20 rooms in the state, Rice said.

For more information, contact (800) 872-1259.

Operator offers Hot Springs

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kincaid Travel here, a long-time operator of tours to Arkansas, will offer its first overnight escorted trip to the holiday festivities of Hot Springs, Ark., according to general manager Wesley Cunningham.

The one-night Hot Springs Rings in the Holidays trip departs Dec. 12 and costs $159 per person, double.

The rate covers round-trip travel from Oklahoma City, dinner, continental breakfast and viewing of the city's Christmas lights and sounds.

Passengers will stay at the Arlington House. For information, call the tour operator at (800) 998-1903.

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