The annual Oxford Holiday Business Walk took place with a new addition this past weekend, a “’Twas The Night Before” lineup of events.
There were just shy of 30 participating businesses, all under the organization of the Chamber of Commerce, coming together to bring community members out to shop and socialize.
The decision to restructure the festivities into a two-day affair was new this year, said Chamber President, Kelli Riggs. The purpose was to bring more attention to local businesses on Friday and have more family-friendly entertainment on Saturday at the Business Walk and Festival.
The night-of, Uptown businesses kept their doors open late and offered discounts to encourage patrons to stop in among the outdoor action.
“Every one that I’ve reached out to while starting to plan this has just been on-board and very giving and ready to see what we can do to make the night bigger and better,” Riggs said.
In her eyes, the event built a stronger relationship between the community and the businesses, providing an opportunity to give back.
Many of the participating businesses are Chamber members with owners that have been a part of the Holiday Walk weekend for as long as they can remember.
Lisa Leishman, who has owned You’re Fired for almost 10 years, was a “godsend” for promoting the Holiday Walk, according to Riggs.
Using Facebook, Leishman organized four weeks of giveaways from local businesses. The grand giveaway of $1000 was awarded mid-Friday night to Sue Mavis, who had entered her name in a participating business’s entry box, which 18 Oxford businesses housed in their stores.
Leishman was proud to get students and community members to turn out.
She understands that shopping locally is popular and was open until midnight with half-price studio fees for the Holiday Walk night. You’re Fired donates often to university events.
“When the community supports us, we want to support it, too,” Leishman said.
’Twas The Night Before was anything but short on treats. It featured storefront wine tasting at Hush and Follet’s, Scotty’s Brewhouse food tasting at The Apple Tree, hot chocolate at Tim Hortons’ on-site food truck, and Butler Tech and Talawanda student Emma Glazier’s kettle korn donations.
Other attractions included Talawanda High School chorale performances, the aforementioned Grand Prize announcement and the Christmas Tree Decorating Contest.
Five trees were donated by Oxford’s Lion’s Club, the entity that sells them in Uptown Memorial Park. The decorating teams were McCullough-Hyde/TriHealth, Kiwanis Club of Oxford, Oxford Masonic Lodge, Phi Mu Sorority and the Rotary Club of Oxford.
“I just think it’s awesome that these organizations are willing to come forward, with the Lion’s Club donating the trees and the five other organizations buying the decorations and the lights to help support our community,” Riggs said.
The Rotary Club, a first-timer to the Holiday Walk, is no stranger to community service, most notably with its scholarship fund for Talawanda High School students, according to President Pat Sidley.
Riggs shared that the contest was a favorite of many, including herself, because of the charitable outcome. All five trees will be donated to local families through the Family Resource Center.
“For us, it’s just fun to get out and do something,” Sidley said. “It’s something we can all get behind. Most importantly, five trees are going to end up in five homes that wouldn’t otherwise have trees.”
Aside from this long-time tradition, the Chamber of Commerce hosts the Wine Festival, Dog Days and “Red Bricks to Progress,” where the Business of the Year is announced, each year.
Community representatives, like the ones at the Chamber and the Visitor’s Bureau, are working to do more with university students, through efforts such as Town and Gown, a summertime event where both Miami students and community members are invited to participate, and their collaborations with MAP, Miami Activities and Programming.