It was a smart move on the part of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau to be one of the sponsors of last night’s taping of the NBC “Holiday on Ice” special at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
Right there next to the ice was a banner promoting the website www.LittleRock.com. It will be seen by people across the country a week from Sunday when NBC airs its annual ”Holiday on Ice” special from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. Sure, there will be NFL games on Fox and CBS that afternoon. But millions of Americans — especially women — will be watching “Holiday on Ice.” I’m told the special will include the musicians and skaters having fun in Little Rock in the days leading up to the taping.
What this does is add to Little Rock’s emerging reputation as a historic, charming, funky, fun Southern city with lots of amenities. You wouldn’t have thought of central Arkansas as the place where NBC would film this show. And that adds to the reputation of this as a place that’s full of surprises.
Brian Boitano led a cast of skaers that included Michael Weiss, Elvis Stojko, Steven Cousins, Caryn Kadavy and others. REO Speedwagon, formed way back in 1967, was there to performing “Keep On Loving You” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” This is a group whose 1981 album “Hi Infidelity” sold more than 10 million copies.
Rick Springfield was also there. He’s 60 now, which makes me feel old. And, of course, he performed “Jessie’s Girl,” his hit single from 1981.
A lot of baby boomers will relate to REO Speedwagon, Rick Springfield and Brian Boitano, who won that Olympic gold medal 21 years ago. And they will be watching NBC during the long Thanksgiving weekend and hearing about Little Rock.
It made me think about my week in Little Rock.
At noon Monday, I heard a panel of former Razorback quarterbacks speak. I was part of a crowd of 300 people at the Little Rock Touchdown Club meeting that day. Former Alabama and Kentucky head football coach Bill Curry will be the speaker next Monday at the final meeting of the season for what has become one of the top clubs of its type in the country.
Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, I drove down the street to the Clinton School of Public Service to hear John King, who is in the news after being named as Lou Dobbs’ replacement in prime time at CNN
On Wednesday night, I grabbed a great dinner at El Dorado on Asher Avenue — one of a plethora of authentic Mexican restaurants now in the city — before heading to one of the finest basketball facilities of its type in the country (UALR’s Jack Stephens Arena) to watch a college basketball game.
On Thursday night, I ate good sushi in North Little Rock and then walked with my wife and youngest son over to the ”Holiday on Ice” show.
During the lunch hour Friday, I was at the Clinton Library to hear a fascinating talk by David Walker, who ran the U.S. Government Accountability Office for almost a decade.
On Saturday, I plan to attend a Southeastern Conference football game at War Memorial Stadium. The SEC, of course, is the home of the finest college football in America.
All of this in the course of six days. All of this within minutes of my home. All of this without having to leave work early. I didn’t even mention that President Clinton was in town for several days, doing a series of events. Dick Morris was even in town. I doubt the two men met with each other!
Despite the city’s problems — and there are a lot – in many ways these are the good ol’ days in Little Rock.