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Though Buena Vista’s Main Street was relatively quiet, this year’s Christmas Opening was well attended. The Chocolate Walk had 343 participants visiting 28 local businesses. More than 30 participants came to the Polar Plunge at the River Park, and the Parade of Lights attracted a sizable crowd of around 800 people. Additionally, the Buena Vista Public Library hosted 13 local published authors. 

The Polar Plunge, in its fourth year, supports Toys for Tikes, a Buena Vista High School program run by students. 

A brave plunger belly flops into the Arkansas River at the Fourth Annual Polar Plunge on December 4, 2021. Rec Director Earl Richmond described the plunge as a “marquee event.” Photo by Hannah Harn.

“[The Polar Plunge] is always one of our marquee events for the Christmas Opening,” says Earl Richmond, Recreation Director and host of the Polar Plunge. “It’s a great tradition, and I think we’ll keep doing it as long as people are excited. This is probably our biggest turnout, both by spectators and participants.”

The Parade of Lights drew a huge crowd, with all of Main Street packed with families. The parade was headed by the Buena Vista Police Department and featured circus tricks and local business floats, with the Fire Department escorting Santa Claus at the tail end.

The parade ended at the corner of Main Street and Railroad Street with a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Santa himself. Though it was unseasonably warm, the Christmas energy was still present as families and visitors surrounded the tree before the lighting.

Already prepared for 2022, the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored this year’s parade, said that next year’s opening will again be held on the first Saturday in December.