Sam Kay

The last few weeks before finals can be a stressful time for Miami University students, but the Oxford Parks and Recreation department will be offering students a chance to get rid of some anxiety and connect with the city and community through the Oxford Holiday Festival.

The event, which begins Dec. 5 at Oxford Memorial Park and continues through Dec. 6 at the Oxford Community Arts Center, includes activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa, performances by local school choirs, a craft sale, a book sale and chocolate dreidel making.

On the evening of Dec. 5 Oxford Mayor Prue Dana will switch on the city’s holiday lights at 6:30 p.m., and the Hillel Foundation will light the community menorah at 7:30 p.m.

According to Paige Wood, owner of uptown store Alpha House, local businesses started the festival in 1992 as a way to draw holiday shoppers to Oxford and give back to the community.

“It’s for everyone to celebrate the holiday season, it’s like a big small town America thing when Santa comes to town and the mayor turns on the lights and the kids are caroling,” Wood said.

Wood has played the role of Mrs. Claus every year of the festival’s beginning.

Will Reed of Oxford Parks and Recreation Department said thwe event is mainly geared toward families with kids but that Miami students are welcome.

“It’s a community event and Miami students are part of the community,” Reed said. “We’d love to have Miami students come out and enjoy it.”

First-year Christian Adams felt the festival would make for a good trip uptown.

“If nothing else, I’d like to see the lights,” Adams said.

First-year Lorraine Boissoneault expressed interest in the book sale and first-year Charlotte Stauffer said she hopes to go for a carriage ride.

“Finals will be tough, and I’m glad that I’ll get to celebrate the holidays here as well as at home,” Stauffer said.

Parks and Recreation Director Gail Braiher said the festival was as much about bringing the community together as celebrating the season.

“It’s a nice time to be uptown, the restaurants are open, the mayor lights up the lights, it’s a nice time for students to take a break from studying and get in the holiday spirit,” Braiher said.

According to Braiher, the city of Oxford provides most of the funding for the festival, but local businesses take part by donating door prizes.

Local businesses and community members have also been taking part in a new gingerbread decorating contest put on by the Oxford Visitors and Convention Bureau to promote the festival.

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