Christmastime excitement in Oxford

Dec. 06, 2013 @ 09:56 PM

OXFORD — Downtown was illuminated Friday night when the city turned on its white lights for Christmas.

The unseasonably warm weather drew thousands to Williamsboro Street in anticipation of the annual Christmas parade with more than 100 floats.

Kids lined the streets waving neon colored glow sticks and watched the floats from atop their parent’s shoulders.

For some, the event marks the start of the Christmas season.

“I look forward to it every year,” said Willanski Hester, an Oxford native. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s really when they light the green that its officially Christmastime.”

Hester and his friend Willy Winston would attend the parade when they were in high school at J.F. Webb. Winston said it was an opportunity to meet with friends and socialize, just as it is for them now.

“We are looking for people we know, people we grew up with,” Winston said.

Hester said while he was deployed abroad in the Army, he would miss simple community moments, like the Christmas parade in downtown Oxford.

“You miss that community feeling,” Hester said. “I’m kind of excited about who I’m going to see out here tonight.”

Katie Roberts and her friends, Bradley Rozell and Skyler Rhea, came out for the parade as they have for many years past.

Roberts, a sophomore at J.F. Webb, said her favorite part is before the parade starts because that’s the time she usually runs into her friends.

“If we don’t see them before the parade, we see them in the parade,” Roberts said.

Rozell added, “And then we yell at them to make them feel awkward.”

Rhea said he and his friends went to elementary school together but were scattered in middle school.

The parade is a time when they can get together without having to plan it, Rhea said.

“If we had a choice, we would probably rather be here than anywhere else,” Rhea said.

Others are drawn out to support friends and family riding in the parade.

Rick Edwards and his wife Diane came from Henderson to cheer on their granddaughter, who was riding in the float for Angie’s Dance Academy.

“I think I like it because they have floats like the old-fashion parades,” Rick Edwards said.

Brooke and her grandmother, Thelma, have attended the parade since they moved to Oxford six years ago from Columbia, S.C.

“This is one of the unusual places where they have the parade at night,” Thelma Hill said. “Most places have it during the day, but I prefer it at night.”

As former marching band members themselves, both grandmother and granddaughter have an appreciation for marching bands and enjoyed listening to the high school jazz band play before the parade.

But, Thelma Hill said her favorite part is probably the people.

“When you come to things like this, you meet old friends,” she said.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.