EUREKA SPRINGS – The seven-story statue of Christ overlooking the picturesque Victorian village of Eureka Springs from Magnetic Mountain will be lighted for Christmas – with private donors footing the bill.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported the two floodlights that illuminate the Christ of the Ozarks are set be turned back on the evening of Friday, Dec. 14.
Statue lights were turned off in November to save money on electricity after tough economic closed the Great Passion Play Oct. 27. Christ of the Ozarks is located on 700-acre campus where the play, an Arkansas family and group attraction in the Ozark Mountains seen by millions of people since 1966, is located.
Cornerstone Bank will take over the property in January in lieu of foreclosure proceedings, according to the bank’s president.
Private donors have volunteered to pay the electric bill and turn the lights back on at least through the Christmas season, said Keith Butler, chairman of the nonprofit Elna M. Smith Foundation, which operated the Passion Play, the Democrat-Gazette reported.
The electric bill for the two 10,000-watt floodlights costs about $200 a month. Additional repairs of another several hundred dollars also are needed, said Butler.
Donors include both churches and individuals, Butler told the Democrat-Gazette. He said a fund has been established to help keep the statue lit in the future.
“It’s a symbol for a lot of people, and it’s important to a lot of people’s faith,” Eureka Springs Alderman James DeVito told the Democrat-Gazette, adding the statue serves as a landmark for people who get turned around in the winding streets of the tourist town.
Completed in 1966, Christ of the Ozarks is Arkansas’ largest and best-known sculpture and can be seen from miles away.
Efforts to sell the play and property were unsuccessful, resulting in its closure, the Democrat-Gazette reported.