OXFORD — The City of Oxford turned out last week to celebrate the Fourth of July for three straight days. Oxford’s Freedom Festival took place from July 2-4, starting with a parade and ending with a pool party.
The parade was Sunday, July 2 and was followed by a special Summer Music Series concert in the park. The concerts are typically held on Thursday night, but a special concert is held following the parade each year.
According to Casey Wooddell, Director of Oxford Parks and Recreation, the parade had over 30 organizations and group participate. This year the parade had three special judges — mascots Swoop, Gapper, and Rox the Fox.
However, the main event is always held on July 3 at the Oxford Community Park. That celebration features inflatable games, a mobile zip line, face painters, animal groups, vendors, concessions, magicians, train rides, and much more. In fact, this year there were two new attractions: hot air balloon tethered rides and a climbing wall.
To end the three day event, OPRD hosted a pool party with a first-time cardboard boat race that kicked off at noon.
As for funding, Wooddell said, “The city budgets funds a large percentage of these events, but we do receive community support through monetary sponsorship’s and donations of raffle prizes and services as well. For this year’s events, we had five major monetary sponsors — Jason Reynolds/Re-Max Real Estate, Shademaker’s Nursery, Beaton Insurance, Oxford Medical Health & Wellness, and LaRosa’s Pizza. There’s a lengthy list of others who also provided support in numerous ways.”
Unlike other Fourth of July celebrations, Oxford’s is a three-day series which provides free events for the community. There is no cost for the parade or music festival. The only costs are at the main event, and that’s just for the food and hot air balloon. Everything else at the Community Park, from parking to face painting, is free. This year’s pool party was even free, unlike last year where there was a significantly reduced entrance fee.
Wooddell added, “It’s one of the ways the city gives back to the community and makes Oxford a great place to live, work and play. Our main goal every year is to provide a series of events for the greater Oxford community to enjoy, but to do so in remembrance of the real purpose behind them; celebrating our Nation’s independence.”
According to Wooddell, an estimated 5,000 people attended the main event on Monday, July 3.
“We were utilizing every parking space possible at the community park to accommodate the traffic,” he said. “Responses from residents are overwhelmingly positive in regards to how well the events are coordinated, and how great the city staff do at directing them.
“A special thank you to all of the OPRD staff,” he added. “They work tirelessly behind the scenes to prepare for these events and ensure an outstanding experience for the residents. Our joy doesn’t come in the form of experiencing the event itself, but in providing an enjoyable experience for others. We love what we do, and my team members are excellent at their jobs! A thank you to the Oxford PD and Oxford FD as well, as they’re a large part of our success in keeping our residents safe during large events like these. Oxford does an excellent job of taking care of its residents.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH