For the first time, Oxford will charge for parking at Fourth of July event. Here’s why.

Oxford will celebrate the nation’s independence with a traditional two-night party bringing the community together in two locations.

Freedom Festival 2018 will be see the usual parade and concert Uptown on Monday, July 2, and the food, games and fireworks at Community Park on Tuesday, July 3.

One change this year will be a $5 charge for cars entering the Community Park for the July 3 activities, according to Oxford Parks and Recreation Director Casey Wooddell. He said parking has become extremely congested at the annual event, which draws people from all over the area.

“We want to encourage carpooling or walking and biking to the event. It is a very crowded event, which is a great thing. It draws not only from Oxford, but the surrounding area,” Wooddell said. “The income (from parking) will be used for future festivals.”

July 2 activities Uptown will begin with the parade at 6:30 p.m. with the theme “Rockin’ in the USA” at the corner of College Avenue and High Street, heading east up High Street to Poplar. The Community Band will play, starting just after 6 p.m. to get everyone into a patriotic mood as the parade is starting.

Participants will pass by the judging stand set up between the parks with cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 for first, second and third place, respectively.

Floats should be decorated with lots of red, white and blue and kids are invited to decorate their bikes to participate, as well. Pet owners are welcome to dress up their pets for a pet parade.

The evening will continue after the parade with a concert in the park when Thunder Bay will be playing oldies on the Performance Pavilion stage at 7 p.m.

July 3 activities at the Community Park will begin at 6 p.m.

Missing this year will be the Mobile Zipline. Wooddell said it has been a great attraction in past years, but was slow-moving one, forcing people to stand in line for a long time.

There will be hot air balloon rides again this year for a charge.

There will also be a rock climbing wall, giant inflatables, games, stilt walkers, a strolling magician, face painting and the always-popular trackless train.

American Fireworks will return to provide the closing to the celebration.

Rain date for the July 3 activities is July 4 with times the same.

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