Large turnout expected to watch city 'Illuminate' tree

Submitted photoThis file photo shows the crowd during the city’s 2018 Illuminate ceremony. More than a thousand people are expected to attend this year’s event on Saturday.

The tree is up, the Ferris wheel is assembled and the funnel cake batter is ready to be fried.

Illuminate, a month-long Conway Christmas tradition, will kick off Saturday at Rogers Plaza, outside of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.

The day also marks the city’s 10th annual Small Business Saturday.

“Create great memories this weekend in downtown Conway,” Conway Downtown Partnership Executive Director Kim Williams said. “And celebrate our small businesses that are the backbone of our community.”

Downtown merchants will open their doors at 10 a.m. Saturday. The stores will be celebrating 10 years of participating in Small Business Saturday by offering 10 for $10 special offers, Williams said.

At 3 p.m., Illuminate festivities begin with Smile with Santa, live music from Palmer Music Company and interactive family-friendly crafts and games, all free to the public. Attendees can purchase funnel cakes, hot chocolate or hot cider at one of the food vendor booths.

There will also be children’s train rides available for $3 and Ferris wheel rides for $5 on the main Ferris wheel or $3 on the mini Ferris wheel.

The horse-drawn carriage rides will return this year. A ride is $5 per person with a $20 minimum and will continue through New Year’s Eve.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Mayor Bart Castleberry will lead the annual Conway Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

For more information on the event, visit

Staff writer Jeanette Anderton can be reached at

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