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Weekend Events Go Full Tilt With Christmas Spirit
Whoville 12-6
Smiles were in abundance as the parade floats just kept on rolling on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 2 in Oakdale. Here, the residents of Whoville smile and wave to the crowd. Jeff Kettering/The Leader

It was a day which summoned thousands to the community as the center of Oakdale was completely abuzz with activity on Saturday, Dec. 2.

As Downtown Christmas celebrated its 15th year, the draw of the event was apparent as over 100 vendors lined North Third Avenue, as well as E street offering gifts, goods and food of varying cuisines.

While the hustle and bustle of North Third continued well into the night, Oakdale Enrichment Society stayed busy at the other end of town as over 75 floats began lining up at the FES Hall for the seventh annual Christmas Parade.

Children, car clubs and enthusiastic community members began the journey east on Poplar at 4 p.m. sharp, making their way to North Second. An estimated 2,000 people lined the streets to cheer on the participants. Rounding out the back of the parade line was none other than Cowboy Santa himself, who brought Mrs. Claus along for the festivities.

But it was perhaps the activity happening at Wood Park at the center of town which reminded visitors and community members alike of Oakdale’s commitment to supporting the community as well as celebrating the Christmas spirit.

A menagerie of small trees sponsored by varying service clubs, businesses and families, led the way to the center of the park where the large tree was set to be lit. Surrounding the tall timber were painted wood decorations also sponsored by the community as well as a newly installed light tunnel to the south of it.

“The Christmas tree has long been a symbol of hope, joy and renewals,” City of Oakdale Mayor, Cher Bairos, stated during remarks prior to the Saturday tree lighting ceremony. “It stands tall adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Casting a glow that reaches into every corner of our downtown. It is a beacon of light that reminds us of the goodness that is within each of us and the strength that we find when we come together.”

Bairos further acknowledged the organizations as well as individuals who came together to make the event possible. Special kudos were given to Community Hospice and Mel Bradley for being the presenting sponsor of what will now become an annual tree lighting event.

“So as we illuminate these trees let it serve as a symbol of the love and joy that we bring to one another during this season,” Mayor Bairos said.

Love Oakdale Director Lisa Kjeldgaard echoed the mayor’s sentiments by way of gratitude to the community, organizations and volunteers who made the event not only possible, but a success.

“On behalf of the Small Town Christmas Committee, we want to thank the 94 local businesses, organizations and families that sponsored the decorations,” Kjeldgaard said.

She then shared the results of the downtown business window decorating contest which was hosted by Love Oakdale. There were a total of 22 entries.

Of the 22 entries the top three were awarded to: Astro Thrift and Gift Store, Third Place; Roberts Ferry Gourmet, Second Place and Boutique’s at Tiffany’s, First Place.

The ceremony was concluded by Mel Bradley and Mayor Bairos pressing a ceremonial button to light the trees.

Tree 12-6
A beacon now at the center of Oakdale, the large tree at Wood Park was lit during a ceremony hosted on Saturday evening, part of the day’s festivities that included the Old-Fashioned Downtown Christmas with vendors, the annual parade and the tree lighting. Teresa Hammond/The Leader
Rescue 12-6
There was even room in the holiday parade for some out of this world entries; the festive parade was just one part of a busy Saturday celebration in Oakdale. Jeff Kettering/The Leader
Mayor 12-6
Oakdale Mayor Cher Bairos offered a few words during the Saturday evening special Tree Lighting ceremony at Wood Park. Teresa Hammond/The Leader
Watchers 12-6
Kids and adults alike settled in for the Saturday afternoon Christmas parade in Oakdale, treated to dozens of entries, most with a holiday theme. Jeff Kettering/The Leader