Friends and families walked down the middle of High Street, with not a single car driving Uptown.
Kids got strapped into harnesses to play in a giant inflatable Hungry, Hungry Hippo game. Miami University students stood in a line, waiting for their turn on the zipline hanging over Uptown Park. Food trucks and vendor tents lined the streets, and live music accompanied games of giant jenga and cornhole.
Oxford and Miami community members came together Friday night for Red Brick Friday: Streets & Eats, an evening of music, games, food and fun.
Hosted by the City of Oxford, Enjoy Oxford and Oxford Chamber of Commerce, Red Brick Fridays are a summer series of events to support local businesses. Streets & Eats was the last of this summer’s themed events, and it served to welcome Miami students back to town and to commemorate the end of summer.
For the event, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., High Street was blocked off from Beech Street to Campus Avenue to create a more walkable way to experience Uptown on a weekend.
Alyssa Nook, a senior nursing major, went with a group of her friends. They walked down the street and picked up a few free t-shirts from tents along the way before getting mango smoothies and checking out other food trucks.
“It looked really fun and something to do to get out of the house [on a] nice day,” Nook said. “[We’re] having a really good time – it’s nice to see everyone. There's a lot of people here we know, so it's nice to kind of come together again.”
The tents and tables lining High Street included community organizations, such as the League of Women Voters and the library, student organizations, such as the Asian American Association, and local businesses, such as Shademakers Garden Center.
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Lauren Metz, an associate at Shademakers, sat under the shade of a canopy tent, next to students looking at tables of plants, pottery and other items for sale.
“We are out here today trying to get our name out there so the new college students know what we have,” Metz said. “It seems like there’s way more people at this one than there has been [at] previous Red Bricks.”
Lauren Bielawski, a junior arts management and entrepreneurship major, came to Red Brick Friday for two reasons: the zipline and the atmosphere.
“I saw the zipline and got really excited, and I like the sense of community that happens whenever events Uptown happen,” Bielawski said.
Having attended other festivals in Uptown Park, she thinks events like this bring Miami students and Oxford residents closer.
“If I come Uptown on the school day, it feels kind of empty sometimes … so it’s fun seeing everyone outside with all the tents,” Bielawski said. “And the families coming are also really cute. I’m seeing a bunch of kids run around and I like that Miami is friendly enough to have that here.”
Red Brick Friday offered several family-friendly activities that might appeal to both college students and families with children: the zipline, an inflatable obstacle course, ice cream and games.
Oxford resident Martha Sapiro attended the event with her family and some friends. Her daughter played in the gaga-ball pit set up in the park, while she ate food from one of the food trucks. She echoed Bielawski’s love of these community events.
“Parents and kids can all hang out, and see the Miami students,” Sapiro said. “It’s a nice community.”
The city partnered with Miami Activities and Programming (MAP) to help run the event. Sara Logiudice, a junior zoology major, was one member of MAP helping out at Red Brick Friday.
Logiudice thought the evening ran smoothly, and the event attracted a lot of both Oxford locals and Miami students.
“Especially at the beginning of the year, it really helps bringing students together with people who live in Oxford,” Logiudice said. “I think it's also really good [for] freshmen to know the Uptown area and there's also a good place to run into somebody and hang out with friends or meet a new person. I think it's really beneficial, especially for the younger people.”