By Hannah Fierle, Staff Writer
On Saturday night, the Oxford Uptown Park was transformed into a winter wonderland.
The square was covered in white Christmas lights, the center lawn full of Christmas trees waiting patiently to be picked up and decorated. Patrons sipped hot chocolate while live holiday music played. There were even a few reindeer in attendance.
Uptown Square was buzzing with activity, both local families and students looking for a study break. A selection of winter-themed activities were available. Iceless ice skating was made possible by a slippery, synthetic ice rink, so participants were able to slide around in their shoes -- no ice skates necessary. Horse-drawn carriages provided cozy rides around Oxford on the wintry night.
"It's great that the community and the university can get together to offer an event and promote holiday spirit," said Kara Strass, a graduate student at Miami.
The festival featured a lineup of musical acts from both the university and the local community. Performances began at 4:30 p.m. and included Miami University Gospel Singers, Shakerettes, Treblemakers, Open Fifth, Just Duet, Swing Syndicate and the Oxford Community Band. The performances were mostly traditional holiday music, so spectators could sing along to their holiday favorites.
Miami's Greek community found a way to be involved through Light Fight, an organization raising money for the Oxford Community Choice Pantry. Members of the Greek community decorated the campus fraternity houses with lights and holiday decorations. For the Oxford Holiday Festival, the organization passed out maps showing where the houses were located so families and members of the community could walk around and enjoy the decorations.
"This is the first year Light Fight has been a part of the Oxford Festival," said organization chairman, Mackenzie Wright. "It's great to see families checking out the houses, spending time on campus and interacting with the Greek community in a positive way."
While the event was open to all in the community, it was particularly popular among the student population as they looked to get in the holiday spirit before heading into finals week. Whether just stopping by for some hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie or staying a while to ice skate, students found the holiday festival to be a joyful event.
"The festival was a great way to have some holiday spirit in the community," said Elizabeth Baldwin, a student at Miami. "My friends and I had some hot chocolate and tried the iceless ice skating. And everything is free, which is awesome for students."