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Turf Day garners media coverage for blue turf



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Turf Committee Member Jim Reis (left) gets interviewed by FOX 2 News Reporter Jay Towers. Photos by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2010 - Just like the mail, not even the wind, rain or hail could stop the Field Turf Committee from showcasing Turf Day to the people of Oxford on Saturday in Centennial Park.

Dressed in their "Got Turf?" shirts and raincoats, the group spent over eight hours outdoors kicking off their fund-raising efforts for the blue synthetic turf they want installed at Oxford High School.

"Turf Day went excellent, I think," said Turf Committee member Jim Reis. "The weather wasn't the greatest, but I think we got the word out with all of the news coverage."

Overall, the committee raised about $2,500 for the turf.

The event started off on the right foot with FOX 2 News reporter Jay Towers interviewing Varsity Football Coach Bud Rowley around 8:30 a.m.

During his interview with Fox 2 News, Rowley said that "there's nothing wrong with blue turf. It adds a little excitement and enthusiasm," and that "blue is good."

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An OHS jazz band student plays the trumpet for Turf Day in Centennial Park. (click for larger version)
"We thought, let's be unique; lets be different," Rowley told Fox 2. He added that the idea for blue turf came from one of his assistant coaches.

"One of my assistant coaches said, Coach, if I (win) the lottery, I'm going to give you money for blue turf; but it has to be blue," Rowley said during his interview. "I said Coach Brown, if you win it, we are going to have blue turf. And Mr. Keenist took the ball and ran with it and Mr. Reis, so we are rolling with blue turf."

At the end of his interview with Fox 2, Rowley presented the reporter with a Wildcat football jersey with his name on the back, much to the delight of the small crowd that gathered to support Turf Day.

"I'm glad it's being done privately and I think we all could do more things privately and have a common goal; it's a good cause," said Oxford resident Dave Weckle.

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Oxford Junior Wildcat Coach Rick Vandecar said that the turf would be great for the community. "We save money in the long run and I know that all the other stadiums we go to with turf are always a little bit nicer to play on and it looks cool for the kids, and I think it will be pretty awesome if we can get that done here."

In addition to football, numerous other high school activities, such as soccer, lacrosse, track and field, baseball, softball, cheer and band competitions, could use the field.

The possibility of having people come in from outside the community and spend their money in Oxford is what drew Oxford resident Norris Mageli's support for the idea.

"I think it will be a good thing because bringing in the different activities that will go on, it will enhance the restaurants and shops in town...any money that is spent inside the community from outside the community is actually going to boost our economy in town," he said.

Vandecar added that Turf Day was a good start and that there were a lot of dedicated people working on the fund-raising efforts.

Oxford resident Bill Beane echoed the thoughts of Vandecar.

"This turf is awesome for the community and for the kids...it's softer than grass and softer than the original turf they had. I think it's great the community is coming together to do this," he said.

Despite the ugly weather, Reis indicated that Turf Day was a success for some of the local business. "I know it was a success for the blue beer at 24th St. because they sold it all out and started making more."

Turf Day officially kicked off when the Oxford High School Jazz band played for over an hour while people anxiously awaited for the chili cookoff to begin.

Once the samplings began, the people voted that Peggy Balch's White Chicken Chili was the best among the four entries sampled.

In addition to the chili cook-off, a 50/50 raffle was held, which generated $1,004, with $502 going to the eventual winner.

Reis noted that the winning ticket number was posted online, and if someone didn't come forward and claim the prize a new ticket would be drawn.

A couple of brave souls ventured into the dunk tank, with committee member Dan D'Alessandro spending a majority of the time taking a shower consisting of water-filled balloons that were popped.

"We weren't thinking we were going to make a bunch of money on this, we were thinking we wanted to get the word out and that's what we did," Reis said.

Reis would like to thank all of the businesses downtown who wore the "Got Turf" t-shirts and supported the Turf Committee's efforts during Turf Day.

People interested in making a monetary donation for the blue turf are encouraged to visit www.oxfordboosters.com.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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