By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Let the holiday festivities begin! Here are the major community events coming up the next few weeks.
Look for the Larry Obrecht Bridge lit up this week by the Oxford Chamber of Commerce. Beginning last year, Oxford’s newest holiday tradition marks the season by illuminating the pedestrian bridge over M-24 just north of downtown. The lights will stay up until the New Year. Sponsored by Genisys Credit Union, the decoration is made possible by Excel Cleaning Bros for providing the lights and NES Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling for providing the power.
Do your local Christmas shopping the day after Black Friday on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27. Look for various deals and promotions downtown, while enjoying the atmosphere from Christmas music on the streets, lights and décor.
Next, the Oxford Downtown Development Authority’s Soup and Sweet Stroll returns Friday, Dec. 3, followed by the tree lighting in Centennial Park. The event will last from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
14 downtown restaurants will provide different kinds of soup for folks to try. Tickets must be bought online before the event date. A link can be found through the DDA’s Facebook page: facebook.com/DowntownOxford. Tickets cost $8 for one, $15 for two, $20 for three, or $24 for four. Any more than four tickets purchased together will be $6 each.
Each ticket comes with a lanyard and a punch card giving you the opportunity to visit seven restaurants of your choice. You can stand in seven different lines, or you can stand in the same line seven times, if you want.
After purchasing online, lanyards can be picked up from the Oxford Village Offices at 22 W. Burdick St. from 8 a.m. to 5p.m. Nov. 29 – Dec. 2. If you cannot make one of these times, a tent will be set up in the park from 4:30-6:30 on the night of the event.
The DDA, has 1,200 tickets. If they do not sell out before the event, remaining tickets will be sold the day of the event from 4:30-6:30, cash only.
As the name suggests, sweets will also be provided by many businesses throughout the stroll. Santa will be in the gazebo in the park for pictures, and the tree-lighting will take place at 8 p.m. “We promise your bellies and hearts will leave full!” said DDA Executive Director Kelly Westbrook.
With a little Christmas magic, Santa will be in two places at once that night. He’s also expected in the village of Leonard, to celebrate the Christmas Extravaganza Dec. 3 at Rowland Hall. There will be live music, the tree lighting and a gingerbread house contest.
Oxford Middle School Honors Orchestra will perform Christmas music from 6:30 p.m. The Christmas tree lighting will be at 7. Then, the JDB Band will take over performing carols.
Voting for the Gingerbread House Contest will run from 6:30 to 8:30. Folks can vote for their favorite house by purchasing $1 tickets. All proceeds go to the Decorating Committee Fund for the Village. The deadline to sign up for the contest is Nov. 20. Entry forms must be mailed to or dropped off at Rowland Hall.
There will also be a craft/vendor and baked goods show from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Speak Easy Cocktail Service will provide complementary hot chocolate and cider.
Come back downtown the next day for Oxford Chamber’s annual Christmas Parade Saturday, Dec. 4. Hot cocoa and burn barrels will help you keep warm.
The parade will begin at 1 p.m. on Crawford St. It will then turn left up Mechanic St. to Washington St. (M-24), where it will head north through downtown past the fire station and end at Oxford Tan & Spa at 112 N. Washington.
The parade organizers ask spectators to stay on the sidewalks to view the parade, and to not stand in the medians in the middle of M-24. The parade’s theme is “Sleigh the Day.”
Instead of just one individual, the parade’s grand marshal this year is the Free Meals Program at Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ. Every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m., the volunteer-led program offers folks in need a free meal and groceries from the church’s location at 1. Hovey St. in Oxford Village, no questions asked.
After the parade, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will head over to Centennial Park for photos with live reindeer from 2 to 3p.m. Come early before the parade, to stuff an Oxford Police cruiser full of toys (10-12pm) and write a letter to Santa (12-2). Santa’s Mailbox will be behind the gazebo in Centennial Park from Nov. 22 until Dec. 13.
Oxford PD is once again partnering with the Oxford Chamber to collect Toys for Tots for the Marines to help children in need. If you can’t make it to the parade, you can still drop off a new toy in the police department’s hallway at 22 W. Burdick between 9-5, Monday-Friday.
By James Hanlon