The month of December will once again get off to a jovial start, as businesses, non-profits and the community of Oakdale as a whole kicks off the merriest time of the year on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The team of Foxy Designs have once again partnered with the merchants of North Third Avenue for Oakdale’s 15th annual Old Fashion Downtown Christmas.
The downtown shopping event will begin Saturday at 11 a.m. and conclude that evening at 8 p.m. The event will include over 100 vendors in addition to the Third Avenue businesses. Vendors will be offering a variety of items including handmade arts, crafts, food vendors and more.
Santa Claus will be making an appearance at Integrity Air Conditioning and Heating for photo opportunities. Foxy Designs will also be hosting a raffle booth.
All proceeds from this annual event will benefit the Oakdale Lions Club Childrens Shopping Tour, Oakdale Community Sharing, ASTRO Thrift Shop and Toys for Tots.
With the day of merriment continuing to be celebrated in the downtown area, it only seems fitting the Oakdale Enrichment Society adds to the fun with the seventh Annual Christmas Parade.
“It started because of myself and Paul Rivera,” Oakdale Mayor and OES co-founder Cher Bairos said of its 2017 inception. “He was the one who said, we need to do a Christmas Parade. We sat down in Rivi’s; it was two or three weeks to the event day and he said there’s no way we’re going to get it done. I said we’re going to get it done, even if it’s just me in the parade.”
And get it done they did. From a first year of nine parade entries to well over 50-plus in 2022, the Christmas Parade has become a welcome event by the community as a whole.
“It was the biggest one we had and it was the worst weather we’ve had,” Bairos remembered of 2022. “There was everything from Veterans groups, to kids 4-H to football groups. It just really was everybody. It was absolutely amazing.”
Participation in the parade is free and entries can be signed up through the OES website: oakdaleenrich.org.
While line up and the route for the event remains the same, the times have been pushed up to support one more Saturday holiday activity.
Line up will take place at the FES Hall on North Lee Avenue at 3 p.m. and is first come first served by way of order. The parade will then begin at 4 p.m. traveling east on Poplar toward the downtown area. The route will conclude and turn on North Second to circle back to the starting point.
“We’re doing it different this year, because we’re working with the downtown lighting of the trees,” Barios said, noting the ‘A Small Town Christmas’ tree lighting happening at 6 p.m. that same night at Wood Park.
As entries are still welcome, volunteer sign-ups are still open as well. The organizers shared they will need a total of 20 volunteers to make the event happen successfully. And though the event is free, donations are also welcome to help maintain the future of continuing the event and others like it.
“The smiles and the kids,” OES President Lisa Ballard noted of what she loves about the event.
“People are just happy,” Bairos added. “It’s a free community event. It’s like when we were kids and people are out there in their lawn chairs, in front of their homes and just waving and yelling Merry Christmas. And of course, Santa Claus.”
Organizers are hoping for more favorable weather than the heavy rain that pelted attendees last year, but said regardless of the conditions, they are looking forward to another successful event.
“We want to make this as hometown as we can. We want to make it as easy and community oriented as we can. We want everybody to be in the parade,” Bairos concluded.