By Hal Robinson, CAPP
Doing anything during the holiday season can be torture for those of us who hate crowds. Oxford, Miss., has a population of fewer than 30,000. During the regular academic year, close to 20,000 additional people reside in and around the city. So, when school is out, it is very noticeable.
Fall semester final exams almost always occur during the first full week of December. After that, regular classes do not resume until late January after Martin Luther King Jr. Day which is around the third week in January. So, for roughly five weeks, Oxford is heaven!
Stores are still busy leading up to Christmas, but it is nothing compared to larger municipalities. Want to go out to eat? Tables are almost always available. Want to get groceries later than 8 a.m.? It should not be an issue. Traffic is almost nonexistent. If people cannot find a place to park, they are not looking.
This is the time of the year to be in a small town with a lot of big town options. It comes with drawbacks of course. It is also a time of maintenance and catchup for those of us at the university, a time for us to do things that are difficult to do while the students are around. We often put things off until the break if we can do them while cooler temperatures prevail. But that is the university. For awhile, when many businesses would see increased sales and transactions, Oxford business activity slows and, in some cases, stops. Some restaurants close for their own winter break because it is not cost effective to stay open when most of their customer base are out of town.
I will take what I can get. Five weeks of relative peace and quiet is a great way to prepare for things to come! The only thing that would make Oxford better during winter is snow! This is the South! Snow makes everything better!
Hal Robinson, CAPP, is assistant director, parking and transportation systems, at the University of Mississippi.