Christmas lights and delights

People all over the world show their Christmas spirit with festive light displays.  Thomas Edison started the tradition of Christmas light displays in 1880. Edison was so proud of his light bulb invention, he strung them together and hung them proudly from his Menlo Park laboratory compound.

Photos courtesy of edisonawards.com

Christmas in the South may not always be snowy and white, but Southerners are just as proud to celebrate the season with lights and all things magical.  See the list below for information on displays and festivities, in and around the area, to enjoy this holiday season.

Photo of Federal Post Office, Downtown Texarkana. Courtesy of Arkansas.com

Texarkana, Texas – The owners of the home at 4904 Lesley Lane, bring joy to the community with their animated light display.  The display is set to music which can be played from the comfort of your vehicle.

Texarkana, Texas – The residents of the culdesac on Spotswood in Pleasant Grove, located beside Williams Memorial Methodist Church, spell out “We Wish You A Very Merry Christmas,” in lit signs.  In fact, the tradition is so important to the residents, they even leave behind their signs, if they sell their home, so that the tradition may continue.

Texarkana, Texas – First Assembly of God Church, located at 3401 W. 7th Street will host their annual drive-thru, live Nativity Scene.  There will be over 100 people in costume, bringing the story of Jesus’ birth to life!  When you enter the parking lot, you will be able to tune in to a specialized radio broadcast and be greeted with hot chocolate and candy canes.  There will be live animals; sheep, cows, mules, goats, camels, and more.  This event is open to the public and FREE for everyone.  The event will take place on Friday, December 8, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. And again on Saturday, December 9, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  See video link below to see a recap of the 2014 Live Nativity.  Video provided by Matt Cornelius, YouTube.com.

– Ashdown, Arkansas – The K.C.S. Railroad’s Holiday Express will make its stop in Ashdown, on December 6, beginning at 4:00 p.m.  The train will be stopped at Main St. and Hwy 71.  The Holiday Express is a six-car train, carrying Santa and his Elves.  The train has a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, a smiling tank car named Rudy, reindeer and a miniature village, a gingerbread boxcar, the elves’ workshop, a reindeer stable, and a little red caboose.

Photo courtesy of TexarkanaFYI

Shreveport/Bossier Lousiana Boardwalk – A blizzard is forecast to occur every night at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., as well as 12:30 p.m. on weekends.  While at the Boardwalk, please be sure to visit Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop.  In Santa’s Wonderland, kids get free digital pics with Santa and can make the Bass Pro craft of the week for free.  This place is magical for children old and young.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Tyler, Texas – Santa Land is a 24-acre drive-thru Christmas Park with over two million lights, Christmas music, a 250-foot long tunnel of lights with 12-foot Toy Soldiers, themed areas, a gift shop, and snack bar.    Santa Land is located at 11455 I-20 West Tyler, Texas.  Information and pricing listed below.

Photo courtesy of SantaLand Facebook Page

Video courtesy of YouTube.com

Marshall, Texas – Enjoy the Wonderland of Lights Festival in downtown Marshall, Texas this season.  The festival includes an outdoor ice skating rink, rides on the Holly Trolly, Wonderland Express and the vintage 1948 Herschel carousel. Visit the brand new Santa’s Village for cookies, train building, and pictures. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride on one of three carriages through Historic Downtown Marshall, then listen to live music at Telegraph Park downtown performed by local musicians, area churches and school choirs. Visit https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wonderlandoflights/items/?full-items=yes for prices on the various attractions.  And don’t forget to pay a visit to Central Perk Coffee House and warm up with a cup of gourmet coffee or hot chocolate.

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

The Harrison County Courthouse in downtown Marshall on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The Louisiana/Texas Holiday Trail of Lights – The Holiday Trail of Lights includes multiple cities in both Louisiana and Texas.  You can visit one leg of the trail or all of them.  All cities on the trail are connected by I-20 and I-49.  The two legs of the trail, nearest to Texarkana, are Jefferson, Texas and Shreveport/Bossier, Louisiana.  Check out the video below for more details on the Holiday Trail of Lights.

Paying a visit to any of the Christmas displays listed above is sure to brighten your Christmas.  Be sure to check Facebook Events for more on local holiday events.  Have a safe and Merry Christmas from the staff at Eagle Eye Media.

Terrifying Social Media Game – or Hoax?

Parents around the globe are filled with anxiety, as police warn of the possibility of a new game on social media, called the 48 Hour Facebook Challenge.

A mother in Northern Ireland claimed her daughter was missing due to the game.  Though no one knows for sure if the game is real, the threat is alarming for parents, especially in the Texarkana area. Snopes.com says the game is a hoax.

The rules of the game have kids trying to earn points by having their names mentioned in Facebook posts or by receiving likes and shares for posts featuring them after their staged disappearance.  Participants in the challenge have 48 hours to get the highest score, before coming forward and letting everyone know they are safe.

In the past two weeks, three teens have gone missing in Texarkana; 15-year-old Austin Ariniello, 14-year-old Justyn Coe, and 17-year-old Spencer Martin.  Austin Ariniello has been located and is safe.  Spencer Martin, had only a BOLO (Be on the Look Out) issued for him.  There have been no follow-up stories on the whereabouts of the other two teens.  There is no evidence to suggest these teens had anything to do with the 48 Hour Challenge.  And furthermore, there are no confirmed reports of anyone participating in the game.  Still, parents are fearful.

Facebook is currently investigating this sick game.  Keep up with this story in Eagle Eye.

Fans rally behind popular DJ

Photo provided by Mimi Campbell

Popular radio DJ Mimi Campbell was dismissed from her position with Townsquare Media almost three weeks ago.  Following a post by a disgruntled fan in the Facebook group Texarkana Cheers and Jeers, Campbell’s fans and friends rallied to show support.

Campbell had worked as a radio DJ for nearly 17 years when she was told that the station was going in a different direction.  Listeners could hear Mimi on Power 95.9 in the mornings and Magic 93.3 in the afternoons. “I guess those corporate folks just didn’t know how much of a chameleon I can be. I can go with the flow; just tell me what needs to be done,” Campbell said in a Facebook post regarding her dismissal.

When a disgruntled fan heard the news, she took to the Facebook group, Texarkana Cheers and Jeers, to air her frustrations.  Neither the disgruntled fan, nor Campbell, expected such an overwhelming response.  The post generated over 300 likes, 23 shares, and more than 90 comments.  Fans posted moving messages, such as; #teammimi, #bringmimiback, and “I WANT MY MIMI AND MORNING SHOW BACK.”  The general consensus of the commenters was that, without Mimi, the listeners were changing the channel.

Attempts have been made to contact the management at Townsquare Media Corporate Office in Shreveport.  No one was available for comment at this time.

Animal rescue, not for the faint of heart

There is more to animal rescue than puppy breath, furry faces, and unconditional love.  Animal rescue is a heartbreaking and oftentimes, painful undertaking.

Animal neglect and abuse are responsible for a large number of rescue animals. According to Whitney Harrison Stokes, Director of Ark-la-tex Animal Rescue, they get two or more calls a week regarding animal abuse or neglect. Recently, the rescue responded to several dogs abandoned in Nashville, Arkansas. In two separate yards, a total of nine dogs were left on chains to starve.

“There is a lot more going on in our rescue than just giving dogs second chances,” Stokes said.

Ark-la-tex Animal Rescue currently has 37 dogs in foster care. Stokes fosters six herself. With only 20 volunteer fosters, each volunteer has an average of two foster dogs. This rescue, and many others, are always looking for foster volunteers.

“Would it be a big deal to allow a dog to come stay with you instead of sitting terrified in a shelter, or starving on the streets, or neglected at the hands of some idiot,” Stokes pleaded.

Though fosters are severely needed, each volunteer has to be carefully vetted. This strict rule was invoked following a horrendous tragedy, where more than a dozen animals lost their lives at the hands of a once trusted volunteer and her boyfriend.

Unbeknownst to Stokes, an established volunteer, Whitney Smither, had been pulling countless animals from the animal shelter in Fort Worth, Texas, since June 2016. Smither and her boyfriend, Brian Moore, had pulled close to 130 animals.

“I can’t tell you how many animals she actually had in her possession,” Stokes said. “I keep hearing that she was pulling dogs from shelters all the way up in Arkansas.”

In November 2016, after receiving a call from a concerned neighbor, Stokes learned that Smither had skipped town, leaving countless animals to fend for themselves. When Stokes arrived at the deserted home, she was met with more than just abandoned animals. There were more than a dozen dead animals, skeletons, and tufts of fur scattered around the property. The bones told a cold and cruel story.

“If I had any inkling of an idea that she was doing this, I would have shut her down real fast,” Stokes said. “This kills me.  It’s devastating.  Sad.  Makes me mad.  There’s just not the right words out there.”

Smither has not been located to answer for her crimes. The boyfriend, Brian Moore, was charged with eight counts of cruelty to animals and is scheduled for court on March 14, 2018. He could face a fine or up to 10 years in prison for each misdemeanor charge.

Following this tragedy, the surviving animals from the property required veterinary care. In fact, every animal brought in to rescue usually requires some form of medical attention. The rescue spends an average of $500-$700 per month on vet care.

“We spend right at $250 just getting a dog their shots, a fecal exam, heart worm test, and their spay or neuter,” Stokes explained.

With the average adoption fee being $150 per animal, the vet expenses are rarely fully covered. Expenses must be covered in other ways; such as fundraisers and adoption events.

“Adoption events are fairly successful, but we really don’t want to do on site adoptions,” said Stokes. “We prefer to do the home check and interviews before anybody takes the dog home.”

Running an animal rescue is a lot of work and it comes with more than its fair share of heartbreak. However, Stokes believes it is worth it.

“My favorite part is getting updates on dogs that have been adopted,” Stokes said. “Some of them have the most amazing lives compared to where they came from. It takes my breath away.”

LSU Tigers Snap Losing Streak

Percy Davis

Les Miles gives appreciation on the Victory. Photo Credited to Scott Wolf

Les Miles gives appreciation on the Victory. Photo Credited to Scott Wolf

After losing three straight games, the LSU Tigers finally snapped that losing streak. The Tigers started the season off being undefeated before losing those three games. Saturday, November 28th the Tigers beat the Texas A&M Aggies 19-7.

LSU’s running back Leonard Fournette ran for an astonishing 159 yards and one touchdown. He now has the single-season rushing record at 1,741 yards surpassing Charles Alexander’s 1,686 mark.

Over the last couple of weeks there has been speculation that coach Les Miles would no longer be head coach for the Tigers. Miles has been head coach since 2005 and has a record of 111 victories and only 32 defeats. After losing three straight games his job as head coach was up for discussion but all the speculation went out the window once he defeated the Aggies.

The game started out neck and neck with the Aggies winning the first quarter 7-6. The Tigers put the first points on the board, scoring on two field goals from kicker Trent Domingue. Shortly after that Aggie quarterback, Kyle Allen put together an 80 yard drive to score on a eight yard touchdown to Ricky Seals-Jones.

The second quarter was strictly defense with neither team putting any points on the board.

In the second half the Tigers came out rolling! They scored a touchdown in each quarter and their defense held the Aggies to a scoreless half. The first touchdown was from Derrius Guice on a 50-yard rush. The second touchdown came from Leonard Fournette on a four-yard sprint. The LSU Tigers now have an 8-3 record on the season and are looking to close out the season on a good note by winning their next game, a bowl game.

The Razorbacks stun the Tigers with a 31-14 Upset!

Percy Davis

Razorback Alex Collins rushing through LSU defenders. Photo credited to Gerald Herbert.

Razorback Alex Collins rushing through LSU defenders. Photo credited to Gerald Herbert.

November 14, 2015 the Arkansas Razorbacks shocked the world with an upset victory against the # 9 LSU Tigers. The Razorbacks came out rolling early, scoring on a 52-yard pass from Brandon Allen to Dominique Reed. The first quarter ended with the score at 7-0, Arkansas leading.

In the second quarter the Razorbacks kept the momentum going, scoring on an 80-yard rushing touchdown by Alex Collins. LSU couldn’t get anything going and kept turning the ball over on downs. Shortly after that Alex Collins scored another touchdown on a 5-yard carry. This put the Razorbacks ahead of the Tigers 21-0.

The Tigers scored before the first half of football ended but it wasn’t quite enough to win the game. The Razorbacks won the game 31-14 giving the LSU Tigers their second loss back to back. Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette struggled once again, only rushing for 91 yards on 17 carries and scoring one touchdown. The Razorbacks running back Alex Collins finished the game with 141 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.

The Tigers quarterback Brandon Harris was sacked five times, finishing the game with 271 yards on 21 completions out of 35 and one touchdown. The Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen had 141 passing yards and added two touchdowns to help his team get the victory over the Tigers.

Needless to say it was not a pretty day for the LSU Tigers in their home stadium, now referred to as Death Valley.

Crimson Tide Hands LSU Tigers 1st Season Loss

Percy Davis

Alabama's Derrick Henry runs through LSU defender.

Alabama’s Derrick Henry runs through LSU defender. Photo credited to Dave Ozment.

November 7, 2015 was the day many LSU and Alabama fans were awaiting. This rivalry has been going on since 1865 with LSU getting the first victory over Alabama. Although LSU won the first game, Alabama has won 50 of the 80 games played since, with LSU winning 25 and the other 5 draws.

Saturday with the Alabama Crimson Tide hosting, they beat the LSU Tigers 30 – 16, giving the Tigers their first lost of the season. Coming into the game LSU had the upper hand with the top leading rusher Leonard Fournette. He has rushed for 1,383 yards with 16 touchdowns through only 8 games.

Fournette was smothered by Alabama’s defense led by coach Nick Saban, rushing for only 31 yards on 19 attempts. Before this game his lowest yard total was 154 yards against Western Kentucky.

Alabama’s Derrick Henry on the other hand rushed for 210 yards with three touchdowns on 38 carries. Alabama’s quarterback Jake Coker played well passing for 184 yards and completing 18 of his 24 passes thrown.

The first quarter of football was a defensive game with neither team scoring. In the second quarter the Crimson Tide got on the board first with a 22-yard field goal by Adam Griffith. The Tigers then turned the ball over on downs and the Crimson Tide went down and scored a 2-yd rushing touchdown by Derrick Henry.

With the score 10-0 at this point the Tigers knew they needed to put some points on the board before the game got out of reach. The Tigers quarterback Brandon Harris went down and threw a 40-yd touchdown to wide receiver Travin Dural making the score 10-7.

Alabama got the ball back and turned it over on downs and the Tigers marched down the field and settled for a 39-yard field goal by Trent Dominque. The score was now tied at 10-10 and the LSU Tigers started to regain their confidence from being down 10-0. Alabama, not wanting to lose the momentum, marched down the field with time running out and kicked a 55-yard field with only 14 seconds left on the clock. Going into halftime the score was 13-10 Alabama’s way and most people would have thought we had a good game on our hands.

In the third quarter the Crimson Tide was rolling! With the Tigers getting the ball at halftime, Brandon Harris came out and threw an interception on the first play of the half. This was Harris’s first interception on the season and it was definitely a game changer. Alabama scored 14 points in the third quarter to LSU’s 0 points making the score 27-10 entering the fourth quarter.

The Tigers scored one touchdown in the fourth quarter and Crimson Tide added a field goal to their score. Ending the game at 30-16 with Alabama Crimson Tide coming out on top giving the LSU Tigers their first loss of the season.