The annual Iron Mountain Christmas light display is up and running again for the 13th year, and will be available until Jan. 1.

The annual Iron Mountain Christmas light display is up and running again for the 13th year, and will be available until Jan. 1.
The Iron Mountain Lodge, which has been in existence for more than 30 years, is a family-run business headed up by David and Vickie Egleston.
 According to Vickie Egleston, the idea to do the Christmas lights was born from a desire to form a fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation.
“My husband was serving on the executive board of the foundation,” said Egleston. “And when he realized that the organization was run entirely on donations, he became more aware of the need for fundraising.”
One holiday season, the family was on vacation in Missouri when they saw a Christmas light display at a marina. With that, the idea for their fundraiser was planted.
“The first year we just had a donation box,” said Egleston, “and we discovered that many people will not just donate their money.”
So the next year, the Eglestons decided to hand out candy canes in return for donation. At that point, the donations swelled, and last year Iron Mountain Christmas raised $40,000 for the Make a Wish Foundation. Since the light festival’s inception, they have raised more than $300,000. Egleston said it takes approximately $5,000 to grant one child’s wish.
“We’ve been able to grant many wishes since we started the display,” said Egleston.
This year, when the lights were turned on the evening of Friday, Nov. 26, a wish was actually granted.
The Iron Mountain Christian Fellowship church had raised enough money to grant the wish of one youngster who is battling bone cancer. The boy will be granted his dream of visiting Universal Studios in Los Angeles, Calif.
“For many of these kids who have spent a large part of their lives in hospitals or doctor’s offices, this means the world to them,”?Egleston said.
Egleston said that she has seen wishes granted that ranged from a child wanting to see the migration of the monarchs to wanting to meet Harry Potter to wanting to take a picture with a monkey.
In the case of the monkey picture, the young girl became “zoo-keeper for the day,” Egleston said. She was allowed to spend the whole day at the zoo with all of the animals and had her picture taken with a monkey.
“The Make a Wish Foundation wants to enhance their experience and make it the most fun it can be,” said Egleston.
The Iron Mountain Christmas light display is certainly one of the most colorful and visually appealing of all Make a Wish fundraisers.
The preparation for the more than two million lights begins right after Labor Day. Using the assistance of staff and houseboat costumers, the lights are hung and the boats at the marina are decorated.
Many of the $1,500 worth of candy canes are donated by the students of Perritt and Central Primary Schools. Egleston said that durig one evening they handed out 60 boxes of candy canes.
McCauley Services from Hot Springs and members of the Arkadelphia Rotary Club help get the display ready each year.
Egleston expressed praise for all of those who get involved, and said she was particularly impressed with the boat owners.
“They come out here to their boats to relax,” said Egleston. “And with the Christmas decorations they work, work, work. There’s no way we could do it without them.”
But the boat costumers are more than happy to help. Megan Lindsey is 22-year-old young professional whose family has been docking their boat at the marina for years.
“I think the exhibit of lights is not only a great way to showcase the beautiful grounds of Iron Mountain,” said Lindsey. “But it’s also a unique way to bring the community together during the Christmas season.”
Considering the intent of the lights is to raise money for those in need, it seems only appropriate that the event would help to bring together the community.
This weekend, a singing group from Louisiana will be performing on the S Dock, and both the C and S docks will have hot apple cider, cocoa and cookies for visitors. The yuletide spirit will take place Friday and Saturday from 6-9 p.m., and Egleston warned that “you never know when Santa Claus will be around.”
The lights will be on display each night until the New Year, and additional events will be happening in the week to come. Egleston encouraged people to come and see the lights.
“You can’t describe it - the magic of the lights reflecting on the water,” she said.
It’s the sort of magic that creates a moment for the memory book, which again ties right in with Iron Mountain’s basic intent: to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.
The motto for the foundation is “A lifetime is measured not in years, but in memories.”