OXFORD – The City of Oxford hosted its annual Freedom Festival on Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3.
The festivities kicked off with a parade on Saturday, followed by a concert in the uptown park. On Sunday there was a festival in the community park followed by fireworks. The celebration was supposed to end with a pool party on the 4th of July, but due to bad weather the festival ended prematurely when the party was cancelled.
The celebrations kicked off with the parade on July 2. The floats traveled down High Street until they reached Poplar. There were 34 organizations in the parade, making for a spectacular show for the community. Several floats stood out from the masses. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) rode down High Street in antique cars. Oxford’s Rotary Club Stars & Stripes marched down High Street with flags held high, but the highlight of their float was a young soldier who got a rousing round of applause for his service.
Spread throughout several different floats there were three Captain Americas, an Iron Man, and a Supergirl. National Road Horse Rental, LLC paraded with six horses, to the delight of onlookers.
There was even a suffragette-themed presentation urging the public to register to vote.
Swoop, Miami’s Redhawk mascot, also made an appearance to give kids “high fives.”
First place winner of the parade float contest was Oxford’s Rotary Club. Second place winner was National Road Horse Rental. The third place winner was the DAR.
Following the parade was a special performance for the summer music festival (normally hosted only on Thursdays) featuring the Thunderbay band. This band is a classic rock trio with Mike Gabbard on guitar, Randy Colwell on bass, and Rick Fox on drums. Gabbard described the band: “We are a very family-friendly band. We do classic rock ‘n’ roll that you would have heard in the 1950s and ’60s. Everyone can sing along with that music, they’re familiar no matter what age.”
He explained that this is why he believes they were chosen to perform for the Freedome Fest celebration. They play classic American music like The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys. According to Gabbard — “All the bands we heard on the AM radio growing up.”
Ultimately, this band loves what Oxford stands for. “Oxford is a great place to play. People really appreciate the music, they really appreciate all the activities that went on July 2,” Gabbard said. “I think they really enjoy their town. It’s a good bunch of people.”
This band did fit in for a 4th of July celebration. They got the community off their feet and dancing in celebration.
On Sunday, July 3, Oxford hosted more of the Freedom Festival in the Community Park. While it was rainy and cold, the festivities still went on for as long as possible. There was a zip line, bouncy houses, DJ Toad playing music, a hawk exhibit, a petting zoo, police demonstrations, and numerous other booths.
The event started at 6:30 p.m., but after 8 p.m. the zip line and bouncy houses had to be shut down for safety reasons. Many attendees left and came back for the fireworks at 10 p.m., but as Casey Wooddell, Director of Oxford Parks & Recreation, noted, many stayed to enjoy the festivities.
“A lot of community members stayed and ate the concessions and danced with the DJ under the shelter,” Wooddell said.
There was also supposed to be a pool party hosted by the new municipal community pool, complete with only $1 for admission, but due to the cold weather Oxford Parks & Recreation decided to reschedule the event.
“For the betterment of the community we’re going to reschedule and do a different pool party at a different date,” Wooddell. At press time, the new pool party date had not yet been decided.