The pies are done, now it's time for the cookies as the Christmas season officially begins-and to celebrate, Oxford is hosting its annual downtown events with Oxford's Old Country Christmas this Friday, Dec. 5."Our big downtown event is going to be really fun for everyone," said Christine Grove, of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI). "We think it's going to be really crazy in Oxford Friday night-crazy in a good way."

The activities begin at 6 p.m. on the lawn of Fulton Bank where the borough's tree will be lit. The evening that follows will be filled with holiday fun for the entire family, hosting activities such as free carriage rides, an all new Jingle Hay Ride, strolling carolers and the chance to meet the man and lady of the season-Santa and Mrs. Claus. The jolly couple will be available for photos at Bittersweet Florist, located at 39 South Third Street.

The Jingle Hay Ride, new this year to the holiday events, is a large Amish, horse-drawn wagon that will carry large groups of people and families. The wagon will be filled with hay and blankets for people to snuggle with as they make their way around the borough.

This new addition will follow the same route and offer the same ambiance as the carriage rides, but will be able to fit more people and cut down on the wait time for families. (Note: The traditional horse-drawn carriage will still be running at the event-the hay ride is not replacing the carriage.)

"The carriages can hold about six people," said Grove. "This new Jingle wagon will be able to hold more people and bigger families."

This Jingle Hay Ride comes with one other special attribute-carolers. Grove's daughter and a friend will be just two of the carolers who will lead passengers in singing Christmas classics. They will also pass out jingle bell necklaces to the kids.

As the carriage and Jingle Hay ride make their way through the borough of Oxford, they will take a ride down Penn Avenue, which will be lined with luminaries to give the street a beautiful, festive glow.

"Penn Avenue is a residential street, so we're going to line it with luminaries for the carriage rides," said Christine Grove, of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI). These luminaries were constructed-filled with sand and candles-by the volunteers from the Oxford Area High School's Helping Hands organization.

As is tradition in Oxford, a downtown Scavenger Hunt will keep the kids busy and warm as they run through town, visiting many of the local businesses.

Many downtown businesses will extend their operating hours to 8:30 p.m. to accommodate holiday shoppers and little scavenger hunters.

This is only the beginning of the holiday season for downtown Oxford-and the Claus' plan to be in town frequently throughout the month.

Mrs. Claus will be joining the young ladies of Oxford for tea at SerendipiTea, located at 1 South Third Street, on Sunday, December 7 and Sunday, December 14, with tea times at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Reservations are required as Mrs. Claus is very popular this time of year-call 610.932.6003.

Saturday morning, December 6, following the Oxford Old Country Christmas celebration, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will make a special stop at Oxford Feed and Lumber, located at 112 Railroad Avenue, for more picture opportunities.

The Clauses will make another special stop at Cameron's True Value Hardware, located at 2195 Baltimore Pike, for cookies and pictures from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. So there is a chance for everyone to dress in their Christmas best and meet the jolly man.

The Oxford Public Library (OPL), located at 48 South Second Street, is hosting a special display all month called The History of Santa. The library will be decorated with magical displays and a narrative history of the origins this holidayicon. Cookies and hot cocoa will be served for all library patrons and their.

The OPL is also hosting an exciting activity for kids and adults alike on Saturday, December 13. The Holiday Creations Station, open to walk-ins from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will supply holiday crafts for making a holiday card, ornament or wrapping paper-even decorate a holiday cookie to much on while crafting. (Adults are required to accompany children.) Get into the holiday spirit with festive music and fun.

Thursday, December 4, is Ladies Night at the Oxford Feed and Lumber from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.-giving ladies the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and to save a lot on Christmas presents for the family and pets with 20 percent off everything in the store.

The annual holiday happenings are made possible this year by the generous sponsorships of Fulton Bank and Ware Presbyterian Village.

Although the decorations and the holiday discounts will be around for the remainder of December, there's only one chance to see the tree light up for the first time and the look of joy in children's faces as they race around town and see Santa and Mrs. Claus. So, bundle up and take advantage of this timeless tradition in your own backyard.

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