The annual Oakwood Christmas Celebration was all about getting the community together this year.
People gathered ‘round the campfires at the Oakwood YMCA location, trying to get toasty in what felt like subzero temperatures.
Quinsha Cheeks and her daughter Ariana Hunter were prepared for the chilly weather and came all bundled up.
“I just wanted to bring (Ariana) out for some Christmas fun and see what the event was,” Cheeks said.
The Flowery Branch family was at the event for the first time, but the celebration has been going on for at least the past eight years.
Before that Oakwood City Hall employees Tangee Puckett, city clerk, and Tabitha Hale, administrative secretary, aren’t sure when the celebration began.
“It started many moons ago, but they stopped doing it, so we started it again,” Puckett said.
Ever since they have been in charge the event has been on the second Friday of December.
“We wanted to be able to bring everyone out in the community to get ready for Christmas.”
The two women were the head honchos for the night and set up the festivities.
This year they gave out free craft packets, with instructions on how to create Christmastime objects like snowmen, reindeer and snowflakes.
Not only that, but they also oversaw the letters to Santa children were writing. The duo makes sure each child receives a letter back from the big man at the North Pole. Last year they sent out around 150 letters.
“We do enjoy doing it, we enjoy the community getting together, even though it’s freezing,” Puckett said.
Last year the weather was nicer, around 70 degrees according to Hale. She said the weather usually plays a part in how many people show up.
Puckett and Hale were also the ones in charge of feeding the masses who did come. This year they gave out free bags of popcorn, hot chocolate and marshmallows for roasting. Hamburgers and hot dogs were also available for $2.
Two eighth-graders at West Hall Middle School spent most of their evening next to the fire pit, roasting their marshmallows one by one.
Trey Hufstetler and Elijah Williams said they’ve come for several years in a row now, and Williams lives just down the street from the YMCA, so they walked.
“The event brings friends like us closer,” Hufstetler said.
They weren’t the only West Hall Middle students at the event who believed that.
Amber Hughes, 13, Kari Reed, 13, Emma Attaway, 14, and Kaylie Snider, 13, are best friends who attend the event every year together, but have different reasons for doing so.
All four girls went to Oakwood Elementary School and were in chorus class together, so they unanimously said they like to come and see the “younger versions of themselves,” Kaylie said.
“I like seeing our teacher again, and seeing how the new chorus is doing,” Amber said.
Their teacher was Keith Blackwell, who they said is their favorite teacher. Reed said she liked hanging out with her friends most and getting to know the people in her community.
“I like how everyone comes together,” Attaway said.
The girls also walked to the event from Kari’s house, a tradition of theirs and a “mini-reunion” of sorts, they said.
Attaway joked she was mostly just excited to see Santa, who was also at the event, showing up in a firetruck to the joy of the children.