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Searcy Holiday of Lights & Chocolate Gravy Cookoff


Long known for the Christmas lights on the historic White County Courthouse that anchors downtown, Searcy Holiday of Lights is turning up the amp on its display this year.

Festivities officially kicked off Tuesday, with lights appearing at sundown all over the city. Highlighting the full slate of events this season is Searcy’s Jolly Jubilee in Downtown Searcy on Saturday, Dec. 4, and Berry Merry Christmas at Berryhill Park on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Although the Searcy Holiday of Lights celebration re-started in 2015, this year, the tradition has greatly expanded offerings due to funds granted by the Searcy Advertising and Promotions Commission. The commission awarded $55,000 for the proposal submitted by Searcy Parks and Recreation and the Holiday of Lights committee.

Lighted Arch at Yancey Park in Searcy Holiday of Lights

Photo courtesy of Amber Walker.

“I remember Searcy Holiday of Lights when I was a teenager,” said Kristi Thurmon, chair of the Holiday of Lights committee and publisher of OnlyInArk.com. “The lights at the parks were magical and really brought the community together. I’m so proud to continue that tradition by serving on the committee since 2015 and leading it in 2021. Last year we were not able to have many Christmas events due to Covid-19, so 2021 is bigger and better than ever.”

Painted Tree Forest Searcy Holiday of Lights

The bulk of the Searcy A&P funds will pay for lighting, but the money also allows for an enhanced ice-skating experience, a Christmas Lighting Contest and new events. More lights illuminate Spring and Berryhill Parks, and Yancey Park is included for the first time. The painted tree forest in Berryhill Park expanded to include more than 40 new trees by local artists to complement the trees painted in 2019. New events include a Christmas bus tour, a scavenger hunt throughout the city, and the World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff.

Chocolate Gravy Cookoff Searcy Holiday of Lights

World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff

Presented by OnlyInArk.com and Searcy A&P, the chocolate gravy cookoff will be held Saturday, Dec. 4, from 9-11 a.m. in Downtown Searcy. The event features two contestant categories: amateur and professional. Awards of trophies and cash prizes will be presented to best amateur ($250), best professional ($250) and people’s choice ($250).

“Since Adria English, an OnlyInArk.com blogger, shared her first experience with chocolate gravy and recipes several years ago, I have dreamed of this opportunity,” said Thurmon. “I am so excited that Searcy finally has the occasion to host this one-of-a-kind, family-friendly event through Holiday of Lights. I believe it will draw people from all over the state.”

Contestant entry forms are available by emailing searcyholidayoflights@gmail.com and are due Monday, Nov. 29. Ticket holders will receive individual servings of biscuits and chocolate gravy during the event. Advance tickets are available for $5 at Eventbrite. Tickets will be $7 at the event.

Jolly Jubilee

Other events for Searcy’s Jolly Jubilee include:

“I am most excited about Jolly Jubilee December 4 in Downtown Searcy because there will be Santa, shopping, Christmas music, chocolate gravy and lots of activities for kids,” Thurmon said. “There’s really something for everyone, and I hope Searcy and the surrounding communities will come out and enjoy the holiday fun.”

Berryhill Park in Searcy

More Holiday of Lights Events

Historic Searcy and Christmas light bus tours will highlight locations in various parts of town. The Berry Merry Christmas event Saturday, Dec. 11, is at Berryhill Park. Guests can meet Santa and their favorite princesses and toy characters and enjoy an outdoor movie with cookies and hot chocolate.

Christmas Lights will return to Harding University Monday, Nov. 29 with their lighting ceremony on the front lawn at 6 p.m.

Another fan favorite is the Living Nativity, a drive-thru event with over 300 actors and live animals at Searcy First Assembly of God.

The full schedule of events for Searcy Holiday of Lights with links to tickets and more details can be found at Visitsearcy.com.

Cover photo courtesy of Al Fowler.

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April Fatula is student publications adviser and instructor in Harding University's Department of Communication. She lives in Searcy with her husband and three children and dreams alternately of being a travel writer and drinking her coffee while it's still hot.

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