So, in case you haven’t heard about the Conway Christmas Tree, I’ll try to give you a brief synopsis here (just know there’s more to the story and I’m only touching on the high points). The Conway A&P Commission decided to waive competitive bidding to purchase a Christmas Tree in Conway for $130,000 from an Arkansas company. They initially caught grief because the money wasn’t spent on helping those less fortunate (until everyone became educated that the money was earmarked from our hamburger tax to be spent on Tourism ONLY), that part was hard for a lot of people to digest but eventually… they got it.
Fast forward to the delivery and setup of the tree, it looked impressive out of the box (at least to me, some didn’t like it –and granted while it’s cool, it’s not “special” out of the box. It was touted as the “largest of it’s kind in the midwest” (wait, are we in the midwest?), well, anyway the tree was setup and we had a great ceremony kicked off by the mayor and several people from the community showed up, Santa was there, it was a great time. BUT… uh-oh, not all of the lights worked. This would be the theme moving forward, this tree that we have $130,000 invested in is listed online for sale for $67,000 by several vendors and ours doesn’t work and we way overspent. Now, you can start to see where the second wave of anger and outrage started to stem from this silly tree. Next, it was touted that the tree would be visible from I-40, but yet it wasn’t (I tried several times as did others). Oh well, maybe the lights were off when we drove by.
At any rate, several publications from around the state have covered this Christmas Tree debacle, and honestly I haven’t jumped on the pile because (a) I appreciate the sentiment and what the A&P commission was trying to do. I love the idea. and (b) because they chose to do business w/ an Arkansas company and keep the money in-state, I like that part. I even will excuse some malfunctions because they are an Arkansas company and probably have installed fewer of these type projects than their counterparts around the United States because let’s face it, we are in Arkansas!
Just when you think this Christmas Tree thing is on it’s last leg and about to go away to come back again someday just like Frosty the Snowman there are more stories… Uh-oh, our contract on this thing doesn’t include it’s take down? The tree is still there, right smack dab in the middle of town. Oh well, surely they are coming, we are on their list right? Well, unfortunately no. The company, Get Lit, has had the nerve to say they would fix the tree but that they won’t come take it down. I could probably go on for a little while about how sometimes in business you eat some hard costs to make things right w/ the client –but I won’t go there since it should be somewhat obvious.
Well, maybe I did open my mouth at this point, mentioning on Facebook that I had an idea how this tree could get a positive spin next year as the city (or whoever) started sitting it up again. I got some comments. Remind you, I already have an idea as to how this thing could be a home run, this is, after all, what I do for a living. More or less I left this open for someone to call me to discuss…
One would think that this would be the end of the thing right? Well, one party w/ a resonating voice that keeps getting eerily stronger and stronger these days, The Rock City Times, decided that they’d watched this story long enough and it was time for them to get involved. They published this story (and decided to include me, which I thought was hilarious). See how Facebook blew up (not everyone understands Satire in Arkansas yet…)
So, all of this to say, this Christmas Tree won’t die… I just wanted to chronicle the events leading up to today for those that might be interested in watching how the next chapter unfolds. There are some great writeups on The Arkansas Project and The Log Cabin Democrat on this topic as well if you ware interested in learning more.
As with everything else, I’ll keep you all updated.