County Judge Allen Dodson, a proclaimed nostalgist, is planning for "Christmas revival" at the Faulkner County Courthouse.
It will be the first time since the 90s that a concerted effort has been made at lighting and decorating the Depression-era building.
Dodson said in recent years, windows have been treated with Christmas decorations, and some lights have been strung, but what’s going to be unveiled Tuesday, Dec. 3 at an inaugural tree and Courthouse lighting ceremony is going to be a far cry above past holidays.
Already there is a 22-foot Cedar on the lawn to be decorated.
The tree came from among the thousands grown on the Starr farm, a large acreage close to Morrilton that Dodson’s relatives have held since the early 1900s.
"My family will cherish being able to provide the tree," Dodson said. "I wanted it to come from my family while I was in office."
He said going out to the farm and cutting a tree is a family tradition, one he wanted to share with the county.
Several thousand bulbs are already outlining the building, work Dodson, administrator Tom Anderson, maintenance director David Smith and maintenance employee Ben Newcomb have done mostly after hours and on weekends.
Dodson said before he began the project, he consulted the team that decorates Arkansas’ State Capitol on the most effective way to light a building of considerable size in uniformity and with ease.
"Hot glue," he said. "They use a hot glue gun."
Dodson and his team used empty light strands with magnets at the bottom of the bulb sockets to cling to some discarded metal punch-outs donated by Virco.
"Screwing in thousands of light bulbs was interesting," he said.
The metal piece is glued to the building, and the lights "pop on and off" for an easy setup and take-down, Dodson said.
He hopes he has made it easy enough that the tradition will continue.
In conjunction with ongoing improvements Dodson has planned for the Courthouse, new exterior lighting will be in place to enhance repurposed wreaths his office staff have saved from dated appearance.
Ye Olde Daisy Shoppe has also helped, he added.
The courthouse is unlit at night, but the building will have its exterior strategically spotlighted for effect for the duration after the Christmas unveiling event.
Why go through all the trouble?
Dodson said he’s nostalgic about some things, including the old institution of our county’s government and the historic Courthouse.
"This recognizes the history and all that has occurred here. I see how the Courthouse is unlit at night, and it doesn’t need to be in this shape. It’s about pride in our county’s culture," Dodson said. "It’s important we consider our Courthouse, other buildings and our government. If we don’t take pride in our institutions in all respects, what does it say about our jobs? What if the State Capitol wasn’t lit at Christmas?"
Money for the Christmas decorations was raised through donations, Dodson said, with private donors contributing about $7,000.
The Faulkner County Christmas lighting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Spectators may watch from the Courthouse lawn.
Organizers say to arrive early because some performances for the lighting ceremony begin at 6 p.m.
Santa will be on site for the kids, and other surprises are planned for the event.
"We hope you enjoy the ceremony, and we hope it means as much to you to have our county’s landmark decorated for Christmas as it means to us," Dodson said.
He said the event is expected to be well attended, and a special invitation is extended to former and current county officials and employees.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)