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Kick off Christmas season downtown


Tree lighting Nov. 30, parade Dec. 1



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Santa and Mrs. Claus will once again fly in from the North Pole to participate in Oxford’s annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. (click for larger version)
November 28, 2012 - Folks looking to get into the Christmas spirit will have plenty of opportunities to do so this weekend in downtown Oxford, so there's no excuse to be a Grinch or a Scrooge this year.

The fun begins with the Downtown Development Authority's Holiday Celebration on Friday, Nov. 30.

Serving as the centerpiece of this festive event will be the ever-popular Soup & Sweet Stroll along Washington St. (M-24) from 6 to 8 p.m.

Local restaurants will have tables set up along the busy street, so they can dish out cups of piping-hot, delicious soup to passers-by as they shop for gifts and experience the type of old-fashioned small-town atmosphere that can't be found in some noisy, crowded mall.

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Participating eateries include the Ox Bar & Grill, Casa Real, 24th Street Sports Tavern, Vendetti's, 'Wiches, Red Knapp's American Grill, Victoria's Delights, The Oxford Tap, Lili's Diner and Chardonnay.

The Sweet & Savory Bake Shop will be handing out desserts as will many downtown retailers.

"Most of the sweets this year will be provided by the retailers," explained DDA spokesperson Maria Martin. "We're trying to get people to go into the stores, not just walk by."

Only folks who are wearing a special wristband will be able to partake of the savory soups and sinful sweets. Wristbands are $10 each, three for $25 or four for $30. Kids under the age of 12 eat for free with the purchase of an adult wristband.

Expand the waistline, do some Christmas shopping, then head over to Centennial Park for a holiday music extravaganza beginning at 7 p.m.

Students from the Oxford High School and Oxford Middle School choirs will be serenading the crowd as will the Super Singers, which consist of fourth and fifth-graders from Clear Lake, Lakeville, Leonard and Oxford elementaries.

After the students are finished performing, the crowd will be invited to join in a community sing-along featuring sign language performances by OHS students who are learning the art of talking with their hands.

The Holiday Celebration will conclude with one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the season – the ceremonial lighting of the park's 50-foot evergreen, which will take place at 8:01 p.m. sharp.

This year, Viktor Paljusaj, owner of the 24th Street Sports Tavern, has been selected to flip the switch "in recogition of the contribution he makes to the downtown and to Oxford," Martin said.

"He's just a constant advocate for the schools, sports events and downtown initiatives," she explained. "We wanted to highlight him and recognize his contribution to the community."

After the tree lighting, head on home and get a good night's sleep because the next day (Saturday, Dec. 1) is Oxford's annual Christmas parade, organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

Make sure to pick a great viewing spot on Washington St. because the parade will begin promptly at 2 p.m. This year's theme is "An Old-fashioned Christmas."

Oxford resident Bill Service will serve as this year's Grand Marshal. Service is a well-known and respected personality on Oxford Community Television (OCTV) and commander of American Legion Post 108.

Service produces and hosts a 30-minute OCTV program called "Our Community Access" that airs at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Service has been a tireless promoter of Post 108's many activities and every single event in the Oxford/Addison area that honors veterans, supports the troops and encourages patriotism.

For three straight years, Service has won the Andy Gomolak Flying Eagle Award, presented by the American Legion Department of Michigan. The award recognizes him as the Best Post Public Relations Officer in the state.

As always, the parade will consist of magnificent floats, talented dancers, the OHS Marching Band, local businesses, charities, service clubs, churches, animals, scouts, fire trucks and direct from the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Free hot chocolate will be provided to spectators, before and after the parade, by representatives from the Salvation Army's Echo Grove Camp in Addison Township. Look for them in Centennial Park.

Following the parade, stop by Centennial Park to pet some real, live reindeer and visit one-on-one with Santa himself.

Mom and dad, feel free to snap some photos as your kids tell the Big Guy what they hope to see under the tree.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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