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The Unsung Heroes of City Hall Keep Oxford Beautiful

Photo by Nathan Loe
Photo by Nathan Loe

This year Ole Miss made several lists for “America’s most beautiful campus” and it is obvious why. The tradition of the Grove on game day alone has caught national attention, and every home game Oxford is the host of thousands of new faces.

Sometimes it is difficult to imagine how many people manage to fit on campus come football season, and events like the Double Decker festival bring visitors and music lovers from all over. These enormous events don’t run smoothly all on their own however, in actuality all of the attention Oxford is getting comes with its fair share of roadblocks, literally.

The great events that Oxford locals and guests enjoy are only possible because of the extreme effort of a small group of dedicated civil servants at City Hall. They work around the clock to make sure that everything runs smoothly and everyone that sets foot in Oxford has the opportunity to see everything that this town has to offer. The maintenance and parking departments in particular have the lion’s share of the responsibility when it comes to the hundreds of thousands of visitors Oxford sees every year. Double Decker was a huge success this year, largely due to the efforts of the men and women who get up at 3am to start sweeping and closing the square to prepare for the traffic.

“We couldn’t do it without the city,” said Lee Ann Stubbs, who has been the Double Decker Arts Festival Coordinator for the last two years. “Everyone is so helpful because they know it’s importance to the town. Everybody is proud of double decker so we come together and put in overtime to get it done.”

The process of shutting down the square is only one part of what makes these events a success, the shuttle system that tours visitors around Oxford and the shuttles for game day are driven by part time employees who love the job. The shuttles are free to anyone who gets there in time.

“On game weekends people are lined up thirty minutes before we ever get there,” said Kaitlin Wilkinson, a city hall employee and the woman behind all of the shuttle schedules as well as driver management. “We just want to make sure that people can get on campus in plenty of time for the game, but with only four drivers it can be tough. We probably transport five thousand or so people every game day for free, and if something goes wrong it’s all on us.”

With so few shuttles and drivers the smallest mistake can have a huge domino effect. Parking, traffic, and medical response all fall on the shoulders of the city, but one more issue comes with this many people, the trash.

According to the City of Oxfords environmental services department, the football weekends this year generated an additional 151 tons of garbage, and the Double Decker Festival added an extra 75 tons of trash to the pile.

“It takes numerous city employees to revive the city after event weekends,” said Amberlin Liles, the superintendent for the environmental department. “The crowds and mess are bigger each year, we want it to look like an event never occurred.”

The seemingly magic restoration of campus after these events will only get more difficult as Ole Miss continues to grow and the Town of Oxford continues to be a hub for amazing festivals like Double Decker. More and more people means more and more traffic and trash, so it’s important to do your part, and be sure to thank the people that make this town so beautiful along the way.

Nathan Loe can be reached at nbloe@go.olemiss.edu.

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