- Bob Ratterman Contributing Writer
A tree decorating contest highlighted the Chamber of Commerce Holiday Business Walk Dec. 1 but the event was a community affair with bright holiday lights, a warm fire, singing and free kettle corn.
Uptown businesses put out the welcome mat with wine samples and other goodies for the evening as everyone was invited to stop in and get some holiday shopping done locally and the Oxford Chamber of Commerce hosted activities on the town square.
New this year was the tree decorating contest where five organizations used their holiday imaginations to produce five very different final results which then went to help brighten the holidays for five local families.
The trees were donated by the Lions Club from their Christmas tree lot on the east park.
Decorating was done by the Oxford Rotary Club, Oxford Kiwanis Club, Masonic Lodge/Eastern Star, McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital/TriHealth Auxiliary and Phi Mu Sorority.
Judging was done by applause from those in attendance and the championship trophy was presented to the Rotary Club’s entry. All five trees were then donated to the Family Resource Center, which gave them to local families in need.
“We tried to come up with an idea to get people Uptown and be together,” said Gwen Pietzuch, marketing chair for the chamber. “The service organizations were excited. They are enthusiastic and competitive. They wanted to be in on the action. The Lions Club donated the trees. We really appreciated that.”
She explained the five groups decorating trees were required to bring their own lights and decorations.
The result was five different ideas and effects, but all were bright and cheerful, lighting up the early-evening dusk and nighttime of the Uptown park.
The five groups got to work shortly after 5 p.m. and judging was conducted at 7 p.m. In between, there was plenty of free coffee consumed from the Tim Hortons truck located between the parks and the Chamber table offered free bags of Black Pony Kettle Corn to all. There was also the sound of holiday songs sung by the Talawanda High School Chamber Singers and the high school vocal group Fermatta Nowhere.
It was not a particularly cold evening, but there was a bit of chill in the air and a portable fire grate was ablaze in the middle of the street for people to stand around and warm themselves while enjoying their coffee and conversation.
Mayor Kate Rousmaniere was pleased to see the fire warming people under the watchful eye of a volunteer.
“We’ve tried for years to get a fire in the middle of town but (Fire) Chief (John) Detherage always said, ‘No.’ We finally did it,” Rousmaniere said.
Representatives of the groups decorating the trees were busy getting their trees ready for the judging and then, when finished, either moved to the fire or closer to the singing groups or headed for a couple stores.
The tree decorated by the Phi Mu sorority sisters suddenly moved closer to the other four trees which were closely bunched.
“Our tree was lonely,” one of them said with a smile.
The young women represented the only campus entry in the decorating contest and one of them explained two of the sorority sisters worked at The Apple Tree and heard a fifth entry was needed.
“It was fun,” she said.
That was pretty much the feeling about the whole event of most of the people there that night, although one person in the crowd was probably the happiest of all. Local merchants had conducted a contest where shoppers were given entries into a drawing for purchases made in their stores. The final event of the evening was to draw the name of the grand prize winner and Sue Mavis got to home with that prize, $1,000.