LONOKE, Ark. – It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for one family in Lonoke, it’s coming to an end.
Their love for two things, Christmas and Coca-Cola, have inspired the community for nearly a quarter of a century by bringing a smile to the face of little and big kids alike and leaving them with memories that will last for many Christmases to come.
Christmas comes but once a year, but just beyond the door of one Lonoke home, a Coca-Cola Christmas lasts all year long.
Some may call it a hobby.
“Every now and then I have to move something to find space for something,” Wanda Cook said.
Others may say it’s an obsession.
“Well, my husband says it’s out of control!” laughed Cook.
But for Wanda Cook, it is a love that’s only grown over time.
“Oh yes, I’m pretty well known as the crazy Coca-Cola lady!” Cook said. “Probably about two-thirds of what you see here has been given to us by people in the community.”
What began as a small collection transformed over the years into a magical wonderland for kids in Lonoke County and it all started with Wanda Cook’s grandson.
“The crazy Coca-Cola lady is my grandmother,” laughed Josh Anderson. “I asked when I was in second grade if we could do a Christmas party out here.”
Little did he know that party would turn into yearly field trips for kids in the Lonoke County School District. A chance for them to witness the magic of a Coca-Cola Christmas.
“From that moment on I knew this was a very special thing that a lot of kids wouldn’t get to experience otherwise in the area we live in, so it was always very special that this kept going,” Anderson said.
But sadly, that magic is coming to an end.
“We were wondering ourselves how much longer we could do it,” Cook said. “I think it’s just a God thing that we know now that it is time to celebrate the 25th year that would have happened.”
On April 2, the Cooks are opening their Coca-Cola wonderland to the public one last time. They are inviting everyone in for a can of Coke and a Mrs. Wanda specialty – Cokies.
“Even big kids when I run into them now in town they’ll say, ‘do you still make cokies?’ and I say, ‘yes I do!’” Cook said. “Right now, for the event I have 484 so far and I’m still baking.”
Cook said she is excited for the community to relive the magic one last time.
“It’s sad to end but it’s great to have the memories,” Cook said.
An open house will be held Sunday, April 2 from 1-5 p.m. You can find the address and RSVP on Facebook.