OXFORD — Christmas is so close one can almost hear the sleigh bells ring. And starting Nov. 20, the traditional sights of the holiday season will begin to glow in earnest at Choccolocco Park.
The 2021 Festival of Lights drive-thru light show and Santa’s Village will flip its “on” switch and begin a four-week run.
“The City Council went to a National League of Cities meeting some years ago and came back having seen a skating ring in the summertime,” said Oxford Mayor Alton Craft. “We had planned once we built Choccolocco Park to have some type of Christmas festival. When the council saw that skating rink in the summertime, they wanted to move forward with the festival idea.”
The festival, running through Dec. 24, will have that outdoor skating council members envisioned, along with fun inflatables, apple cider, snacks, and an opportunity to have a picture made with Santa.
Craft recalled using a vendor “which actually put the show on” for the festival’s first outing.
“One of our city employees watched everything and learned how to do it,” Craft said. “He put it on last year and it proved to be very successful.”
Craft said the hope for future festivals is to be able to transform the event at its yearly conclusion into a benefit for charities “as a way to give back to the community.”
“Our staff has done a remarkable job at transforming Choccolocco Park into a magical space where people can create joyous memories with one another,” Craft said.
This year’s event is being sponsored by Alabama Power, which keeps the festival purely Alabamian.
“Alabama Power does a lot to help us,” Craft said. “I like Alabama Power being involved because it’s Alabama. So when anybody reads about it, it says ‘Alabama.’”
“We are proud to continue our support of the City of Oxford and the annual Festival of Lights,” said Alabama Power Company Eastern Division Vice President Terry Smiley. “Bringing visitors to this area through quality tourism attractions like this one is important to the growth of the region.”
Smiley added any attraction which draws people into the community creates “an economic impact beyond the gates of Choccolocco Park.”
In addition to over one million nights in a mile-long route, this year’s festival also features the First Bank of Alabama Santa’s Village experience.
It is in the village where visitors can experience outdoor skating, food vendors, merchandising, inflatables, slides, letters to Santa, and the opportunity to have a photo made with Santa himself.
“We are both honored and pleased to be a part of such an impactful event,” said Chad Jones, First Bank of Alabama President and CEO. “Christmas is a time of year where we focus on giving. As we step into the beautifully decorated lights, may it remind us all of the true reason for the season. The world was given a gift and giving is a great way to celebrate Christmas. Reinvesting in our community is who we are as a community bank.”
“It is a privilege to be the presenting sponsor and to play a part in ensuring a positive experience for families, business owners and the community as a while,” Smiley said.
Tickets are $20 per car for Mondays-Thursdays and $25 per car on Fridays through Sundays and can be purchased online at www.oxfordlights.com.