View Mobile Site
 
Posted: March 29, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Oxford celebrates 175th anniversary

Oxford City Hall is buzzing with activity as it prepares to pass a noteworthy milestone.

Founded in 1839, the city of Oxford turns 175 this year. Mayor Jerry Roseberry has put together a special committee to plan a celebration of historic proportions. In honor of its 175th birthday, 175 honorees are being selected from a list of notable Oxford residents throughout the city’s history for publication in a special edition book; a storybook compiled of local legends and lore is also in the works; a photo contest is underway to provide images for a special edition calendar; and new activities and programs are being planned for Oxford’s traditional Fourth of July parade and festival.

History of the Parade

The Fourth of July parade has been a tradition in Oxford for the past 38 years, attracting visitors from all over the state. Hoyt Oliver, life-long Oxford resident and one of the founders of the parade, says, “The idea for the parade came from some of us who were serving as officers of the Oxford Historic Shrine Society in 1975. We thought it would be a great way to help celebrate the bicentennial of the USA in 1976. So the Historic Society, the Oxford Lion’s Club, and the City of Oxford have been co-sponsors of the parade from the beginning.”

Then city clerk, Violet Bankston was in charge of organizing the event during the early years. Her husband, Curtis recalls what a big job it was.

“She used to work on it at home at night and have paperwork spread all over the bed,” he said. “She really poured her heart into it.”

Jim Watterson, long-time Oxford resident and one of the founders of the parade, recalls that the first parade was a remarkable event.

“Even the State National Guard came to participate,” he said. “They not only marched in the parade, but they even brought jeeps and armored vehicles. It was quite a sight.”

The success of the parade inspired residents to make it a treasured annual tradition.

“In the first couple of years,” Oliver said, “Participants mostly came from the Oxford community. As the parade grew into a county-wide event, we had fire trucks and law enforcement vehicles from county and other municipalities, U.S. Forestry Service trucks and equipment, VFW and American Legion floats, and floats from assorted private schools, dance troops, etc.”

Parade Route

The three and one-half mile parade route begins at the intersection of Pierce and Haygood Streets. It makes its way to Emory Street by way of Stone, Queen Anne and W. Bonnell Streets, then travels north on Emory, proceeding all the way to W. Watson, where it turns left. Continuing west, it then turns left on Wesley Street, passing Old Church en route, before coming to an end at Pierce Street.

Participation in the parade is free and open to everyone. The City of Oxford invites businesses, churches, schools, civic groups, sports teams, organizations, and even private individuals to create a float, decorate a bike, or put on a costume and participate in the parade.

Parade Float Contest

As part of this year’s birthday celebration, the float that is judged to best commemorate the combined patriotic spirit of the nation’s Fourth of July birthday and the 175th birthday of the City of Oxford will receive a first place ribbon and a $300 cash prize.

First place category ribbons and a $25 cash prize will go to the winner in each of the following categories: Best Bicycle, Best Car, Best Truck, Best Antique Tractor, Best Lawnmower, Best Go-Cart, Best Four-Wheeler, and Best Equine.

Any registered participant (with the exception of political parties) is eligible to win. Advance registration is encouraged, although registration on the day of the event will also be available. Interested parties can download a registration form and parade map from the city’s website at www.oxfordgeorgia.org.

Festival

As the parade ends, a festival at Old Church begins.

“As part of Oxford’s 175th birthday celebration, this year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever,” Mayor Roseberry said. All the long-held traditions of the post-parade festival, such as the Rev. Ralph Hawkins Honorary Horseshoe Tournament and free popcorn and watermelon provided by the Oxford Lion’s Club, will still be part of the festivities, however the number and variety of activities and exhibits sponsored by local companies, groups, and organizations will be expanded. Business and organizations wishing to exhibit at the festival can reserve a space by contacting City Clerk Lauran Willis at 770-786-7400.

July 3rd Picnic

After the success of its first Fourth of July parade, another long-standing tradition was born in Oxford. Watterson remembers, “We thought the parade was such a good idea, why don’t we get together and have a city-wide picnic, too.” The Oxford Historical Shrine Society and the Oxford Lion’s Club have co-sponsored a pot-luck picnic on the evening before the parade ever since. The picnic is held every year at Old Church, on July 3 at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to bring a favorite dish to share with their neighbors. Plates, napkins, utensils and drinks are provided by the Oxford Historical Shrine Society and the Oxford Lion’s Club serves up its traditional homemade ice cream. The picnic is open to all and no advance reservation is required.

Storybook

Much of Oxford’s rich and fascinating history has been documented through books and published journals, but many of its most captivating stories have been passed down orally through generations of Oxford residents, and so are at risk of being lost over time. As part of Oxford’s 175th birthday celebration, a collection of these stories will be published in the Oxford 175th Anniversary Story Book. Louise Eady is heading up the storybook committee. “We’d like to invite anyone who has an interesting story about an Oxford resident, or an experience or event taking place in Oxford, to submit their story,” she says. Those who wish to submit a story for consideration can do so through the city’s website homepage at oxfordgeorgia.org. or stories can be mailed to Louise Eady in care of Oxford City Hall, 110 W. Clark St., Oxford, GA 30054. Stories chosen for publication will be selected by the storybook committee.

Photo Contest

The City of Oxford is also having a photography contest for a special edition 2015 calendar. “We are now accepting submissions through the City of Oxford website homepage at oxfordgeorgia.org.” said Cynthia Millsaps, chairman of the calendar committee.

“Entries must be digital color photographs taken by the person submitting them and can be no more than 3 years old. A maximum of three pictures can be submitted per entrant.”

Twelve photographs will be chosen, one for each month of the year, and one will be chosen for the cover. Additional photos will be chosen for placement along the bottom of the calendar. Published photos will receive include acknowledgement of the photographer. Deadline for submitting photos is Aug. 1. Calendars will be available by October 2014 and will be free.

For more information on any of the Oxford 175th Anniversary events, contact Oxford City Hall at 770-786-7400.

Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...