The newest addition to downtown North Little Rock’s landscape, Argenta Plaza, successfully opened on Saturday, November 30, as part of the city’s annual Northern Lights Festival. The event was organized and hosted by the City of North Little Rock and the North Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, with support from Argenta Community Theater, Argenta Arts District and North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
North Little Rock Police estimated 10,000 festival goers strolling, shopping, eating and enjoying all of the holiday activities. All in all, it was a hugely successful event, due to team efforts of the festival committee and partners and also the good fortune of excellent weather.
North Little Rock CVB supplied free hats, antlers and necklaces at the “selfie station” to the surprise and delight of attendees. Families posed in front of the new Christmas tree – a 38-foot tree with four-foot star – with frames or sitting with Santa after he arrived by horse carriage. Actors from Argenta Community Theater’s A Christmas Carol sang Christmas carols and roasted chestnuts over an open fire. Laman Library told lively stories with music on the Rock Region METRO streetcars, the North Little Rock Fire Department gave kids a tour of their truck and North Little Rock Mayor’s Youth Council had fun holiday activities for the kids.
The highlight of the evening came with Mayor Joe Smith lighting the new Christmas tree, with the whole crowd joining in the countdown. The Big Dam Horns then got the crowd dancing with well-known, upbeat favorites. Due to unexpected wind conditions, the fireworks show was moved up earlier in the evening and, set to swelling classical music, it did not disappoint!
By the end of the evening, all five food trucks sold out, North Little Rock’s two craft breweries – Diamond Bear and Flyway Brewing – went through several kegs, vendors selling holiday items sold out and downtown restaurants were completely full.
For many, the festival was the culmination of months – years – of planning a vibrant new space in downtown for North Little Rock residents and visitors to enjoy. Argenta Plaza, a $5.36-million community space, is owned by the City of North Little Rock and will be managed by the North Little Rock CVB. The plaza features a “front porch” area with modern swings; a stage with 40-foot video projection wall; a water wall; fountains and a “backyard” area with trees. The plaza has already been the catalyst for more than $50 million in economic development in downtown North Little Rock. Restaurants, such as Bentonville’s Tusk & Trotter, are already in the works to border the plaza.
Photos by Casey Crocker (Arkansas Tourism)