OXFORD >> State Sen. Andy Dinniman said recently that he likes Oxford because it’s the kind of place where people know each other, and those friendships often go back to generations that came before.
On Friday night’s Country Christmas celebration on Third Street, that seemed to be the case. In an age where cell phones rule, it appeared more people were carrying on conversations than staring at their hands, and the main use they had for their phones was taking pictures of their kids performing.
The ambiance was aided by perfect weather conditions and the closing of the street from Route 472 down to Hodgson.
Throughout the evening starting at 5 p.m., there was something for everybody.
Certainly the most sentimental event was the lighting of the town Christmas tree at 6:30, as beloved Mayor Geoffrey Henry, surrounded by his family and several hundred onlookers, flipped the switch for the last time.
He retired his post for the last election and will be succeeded by Lorraine Bell.
But there was much more.
The most startling sight was the Plumpton Park Zoo Camel from Rising Sun, Maryland, who returned to adorn the live Nativity scene presented by the Presbyterian Church. The creche was set up at the 472-Third Street intersection with donkeys, shepherds and the Holy Family, but the camel was by far the big attraction for that scene.
For those who wanted a rest from the walking there was a hayride pulled by a tractor that took them a spin around town, and a horse-drawn carriage for those who had the luck to sign up for it ahead of time.
Traditionally, the visit from Santa Claus is the big draw in most of these small town events, and Oxford was no exception.
Santa Claus was billed as expected down at the Coastesville Bank via fire truck. But by the time he was part way down Third Street at his expected 5:15 arrival time, he disembarked and walked without much fanfare into the building to take his seat.
Still, the kids kept him busy, and he was attentive throughout the evening to the long line of kids and parents that had formed even before he arrived.
Music continued through the evening, with a large entertainment trailer set up at Locust Street that had recorded music, plus performers and several groups of children’s choruses.
There was no lack of lighting in the town, as the stores were open and decorated, inviting customers to visit.
The Oxford Arts Alliance had another season of hand crafts, with the added interest this year of author Howie Robins and illustrator Reenie Chase singing copies of their book, “7 Missing Socks.”
The Oxford Center For Dance, fresh off a triumphant performance of “The Nutcracker,” had dancers posting in various positions and costumes from the show.
Country Christmas is an annual event in Oxford that occurs on the First Friday of December. Oxford Mainstreet Inc. (OMI) holds a themed event in the middle of town every first Friday of the month along with events at other times to encourage commerce and celebrate the seasons.