Jackson County is full of Christmas cheer when it comes to how they show out during the holidays. I was contacted by Tourism Council President Mark Bullard to take a look at what the city of Newport has to offer in lieu of Christmas cheer, and I was delighted to take a trip over to see for myself.
My girls, Grace (15) and Stella (6) and cabin fever has hit us hard, but luckily there are some great places throughout the state where I can take them to social distance and enjoy some fun outside.
One of the places we decided to venture to was the great city of Newport to see what Christmas cheer they had to offer, and I must say, the city with the logo “Proud Past. Bright Future” did not disappoint.
Being Jackson County’s largest city and county seat with a population of just over 8,000, the city of Newport has seen its fair share of highlights.
Officially incorporating as a city in 1875, and utilizing the powerful White River, Newport became a bustling river town with steamboats in and out daily. Railroads also played a big role in keeping the city afloat creating homes to an opera house, saloons, hotels banks and more.
By the 50’s, Newport was ranked as one of the wealthiest in the United States, and was home to a Ben Franklin five and dime owned by none other than Sam Walton himself.
Today, Newport is still thriving and I am proud to say was one of the first places on the Christmas Tour of Lights that my family has visited this year!
Local dentist Dr. Patti Mullins is a key player when it comes to the Christmas light display throughout the town of Newport.
“I started with a committee of eight,” Mullins stated. “They’re all still with me with the exception of Buddy Rutledge who passed away, but I couldn’t do this without their support, the towns support and our sponsors.”
Mullins, along with her right hand gal Bambi Huff hit the town hard and it shows as throughout the town there are over 120 Christmas trees that line streets or sit near businesses.
The downtown area is adorned with large Nutcrackers guarding the streets and the Veteran’s Memorial Garden.
The Veterans Memorial was the first stop for my girls and I, and they couldn’t wait to get out of the car to take pictures and just enjoy the wonderful displays overlooking the train depot.
From there, we drove to the Jackson County Courthouse to say hello to the huge Santa and Snowman that ordained the lawn of the courthouse.
As we made our way toward the Farmer’s Market area, it’s hard not to notice the festive street lights decorated with holiday candles and trees and what a surprise to cross the bridge and see Christmas trees seemingly floating on water. It was pure magic!
Newport has made a trail of lights throughout the Farmer’s Market with displays featuring everything from a nativity scene, to a huge snowman and more. It is worth the drive to see what this community has put together with the support of donations and community support.
But that’s not all, Ms. Mullins has a treat for those who are willing to stray off the beaten path (Sue Circle) in the form of a cul de sac of pure Christmas bliss.
Mullins and her neighbors have decorated the entire area which is about five houses in total.
“Every year, we just add more and more,” Mullins laughed. “My neighbors are all totally fine with me and Bambi decorating their homes for them. We just love it!”
Mullins and her crew have been working on the displays throughout town for almost 10 years, and she shows no signs of stopping.
“If I ever become rich,” Mullins stated. “I am going to donate $10 million dollars to the city of Newport and light it up!”
I believe the town of Newport with the help of Mullins and her crew will definitely see more lights with each year to come, but as for now, I think they have it just right.
If you plan on visiting the city of Newport soon, come early and adventure through Jacksonport State Park and its visitor center, have a late lunch or early dinner downtown .
For more information on the city of Newport, head to www.newportarcity.org for more information.
Karin Huffman is an Independence County native who graduated from Cushman High School in 1996. Traveling throughout the state is one of her passions, along with writing about her adventures.
Taking over as travel writer for the Ozark Gateway Region is a dream come true for Huffman who lives in the region with her husband Nathan, two daughters, Grace and Stella and son Kaden.
As a family, they enjoy canoeing the Poke Bayou, Salado Creek and the many waterways along the White River in Independence County. Camping and hiking throughout the region is a must for them in the spring and fall as well.
Huffman is an avid nature photographer who will do just about anything to find the perfect waterfall shot, and has visited many in the great state. From Twin Falls and the Richland Creek area in Northwest Arkansas to little known places off the beaten path, waterfalls will be found.
Huffman has been a travel writer for the Eye on Independence Magazine as well as a staff writer for the Batesville Guard, and is looking forward to devoting her time to traveling throughout the eight county region that the Ozark Gateway offers.
If you would like to contact Huffman about an adventure or would like to know how to get more information out about your area, contact her at 870-307-5473 or email@example.com.