Conway’s neighboring town of Greenbrier has seen great growth in the last few years, both in population and in the number of activities available to local families.

The latest event to get the “bigger and better” treatment? The annual Christmas parade and festivities.

“The Greenbrier Lions Club adopted the Christmas Parade as the centerpiece of our community activities,” says Lions Club President Donny McMillen. “Starting this year, we are partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Greenbrier, and Greenbrier Public Schools in what we believe will be the biggest and best parade to date.”

The fun will get underway on Thu., Dec. 6 with a chili cook-off, hosted by the Lions Club. Local radio personality JR Runyon will begin judging the tasty entries at 5 p.m. The public can enjoy trying out the various recipes for just $5, which benefits the Lions Club. All other activities are free of charge.

Next up, at 6:30 p.m., residents will enjoy the parade full of floats decorated in the theme “Christmas Bells Are Ringing.” Parade coordinator Verna Higgins says her Christmas wish is to have favorable weather and plenty of fanciful floats in the procession.

The Grand Marshall will be Randy Tribble, head football coach of the Greenbrier Panthers, with his players following close behind on their own float.

This year, the route has been extended to include Glenn Lane and the Sagebrush Cove subdivision. From there, it will wind through the city’s business park and conclude just behind the City Event Center.

This will be the perfect vantage point for the tree lighting ceremony. Though 2012 marks the city’s 17th year to host a parade, it is only the second year for the community tree. As with many tree lightings, a local celebrity will flip the switch. Or, in this case, “paw” the switch, as this year’s honored guest is Greenbrier Police Department’s canine officer, Maize.

Finally, since no holiday celebration would be complete without a certain visitor from the North Pole, Santa will be on hand to take photos and hear Christmas wishes. Attendees are welcome to take their own pictures or have one emailed following the event.

For more information or to obtain entry forms for the parade or chili cook-off, please call Verna Higgins at 472-7083 or the Greenbrier Chamber at 679-4009.

More Faulkner County Parades and Festivities

Conway: On Dec. 8, Kringle Bell Square in Simon Park will be filled with the holiday spirit. Revel in activities for kids, concessions, entertainment and a visit from Santa. Most items are free; however some activities may require a small donation to benefit American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Faulkner County.

The organization will also host the Conway Christmas Parade that evening at 6 p.m. Parade entry forms and additional information are available at the Conway Chamber of Commerce:

Mayflower: Mayflower will host the annual Christmas in the Park on Dec. 8. The parade will get underway at 11 a.m. at Mayflower High School. For info: 472-6539.

Vilonia: Vilonia’s parade is set for Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. Past mayors will serve as Grand Marshalls for the “Illuminating Christmases of the Past” themed event. After the parade, everyone is invited to the high school for a soup supper and Festival of the Trees. Photos with Santa will be available, as well as an auction benefitting the Museum of Veterans and Military History. For more information, contact the Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce at 499-1312.