BY MELANIE WADE –
The City of Mena, in conjunction with the Mena Advertising and Promotion Commission and the Mena/Polk County Chamber of Commerce is excited to bring the Mena Christmas Festival to the young and old alike on Saturday, December 2nd in downtown Mena.
The fun begins with the annual Mena Christmas Parade of Lights presented by the Chamber of Commerce. There is one important change in this year’s festival – the parade line up staging area has moved. This year, parade participants will need to meet behind the old Mena Middle School across from the Courthouse at 5:30 p.m. Anyone wishing to participate in the parade must turn in a completed registration form to the Chamber office no later than Thursday, November 30th. Forms can be found at menapolkchamber.com, at the chamber office, or call 479-394-2912 for additional details.
The magical and bright parade will make its way down Mena Street starting at 6 p.m., continuing on to Oak Avenue, DeQueen Street, Hwy 71 South, 7th Avenue, and ending at Historic Janssen Park. “You’ll see hundreds of smiling faces along the spectacular one-mile parade route as they delight in the sights and sounds of the season. Christmas themed entries will include illuminated and brightly decorated floats, marching bands, equestrian units, and non-profit groups. This is Mena’s biggest and brightest parade, making it a holiday favorite you won’t want to miss,” said Chamber Director Ashley Smith.
The Chamber’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year, Carla Vaught, will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshall. And as tradition goes, Santa Claus will be the caboose of the parade. There will be a contest for the floats and entries with the best interpretation of the theme: “Dreaming of a White Christmas.” Announcements of winners will be made at the Christmas Festival in Janssen Park following the parade. Candy and other goodies will be tossed to onlookers.
“We encourage everyone to line the parade route, fill the sidewalks, bring your chairs or sit along the curbs to enjoy the show,” said Smith. A few safety reminders for parade onlookers: Organizers ask parents to help ensure the safety of the children and do not allow them to go into the street during the parade while trying to retrieve candy and goodies. Walking Candy Tossers are encourage to “toss to the curb” in efforts to help. They also have to ask that you do not park any vehicles along the parade route, as this limits and blocks the viewing area of the parade. “We truly appreciate your assistance in making this a wonderful and family-friendly event,” Smith added.
The Mena Advertising and Promotion Commission will once again host the 2017 Mena Christmas Festival with activities both downtown and Janssen Park. Immediately after the parade, enjoy a special Christmas concert by Lana Gail and Gail Force at Janssen Park at 7 p.m. Gail, a Nashville recording artist, along with her band Gail Force comprised of Todd Coogan, Stan Beaver, Tiffany Lane, and Lucas Hairston, are known for their upbeat country, rock, pop, and blues music, playing songs from today and yesterday. After the concert, enjoy a spectacular fireworks display and the official lighting ceremony of Janssen Park.