Thousands of residents also defied the rain, bringing lawn chairs to watch the city's annual Independence Day fireworks show. Vehicles found all the parking spaces around Oxford Lake, near where the fireworks were launched, but many more people camped alongside U.S. 78, filling every parking spot available from the Sticks 'N Stuff furniture store to Oxford Family Practice. Some even brought their own fireworks to use before the main event.
Earlier in the day, a little rain brought no pause to the scheduled events — it wasn't about to stop Robin Davis and her canine pal “Chloe” from having their fun.
Drizzle fell outside as Davis and her 3-year-old golden retriever stood patiently in the Oxford Civic Center, awaiting the judges' decision. As far back as Davis can remember, she has attended Oxford's annual Freedom Festival, usually with a dog in tow to participate in the event's dog show.
"I've just grown up in this area and my grandmother and granddad used to come to this," said Davis of Oxford. "It's just tradition."
Davis' determination paid off and Chloe won the “most beautiful dog” award for the second year in a row.
"She really has a pretty coat," Davis said.
Davis was one of hundreds who defied the wet weather to attend Independence Day festivities at Oxford Lake. The event kicked off Thursday morning with a parade of children dressed in patriotic costumes, followed by the dog show. Inside the civic center were plenty of free carnival games while several food vendors were set up outside by the lake. A karate demonstration by Yoshukai Karate of Anniston was also held in the civic center.
Andrew Redding, 5, of Oxford, showed off his karate skills Thursday, overcoming a bit of stage fright in his first live performance before he stood his ground and finished the demonstration. Andrew's mother, Shannon Redding, said her son was only two months into his karate lessons and yet she could already see a difference in him.
"I can tell a difference in his attention span and his balance has improved ... it's really kind of cute," she said.
Before the karate demonstration, Kenneth Henderson III, 4, of Oxford, enjoyed a sugary cupcake that he'd just won in a cake walk.
"It was red and it tasted like a strawberry," the boy said as he bounced around before running to the next carnival game.
Kenneth's mother, Amy Henderson, said her family always enjoys the Freedom Festival.
"We come every year and it's always a great celebration," she said as she cradled her sleeping, 5-week-old daughter, Lily, in her arms.
Amy and Chris Law's 20-month-old daughter, Elly, won the children’s parade's best-in-show award. The tiny blond girl, dressed in patriotic colors, was pulled in a decorated red, white and blue wagon, complete with U.S. flags and shiny, blue-and-silver tassels.
Amy Law said she came to the event because her parents used to bring her and put her in the children's parade.
"I wanted her to have the same experience," Law said of her daughter.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.