The 19th annual Double Decker Arts Festival will be held April 25-26, and the city of Oxford will be enforcing alcohol regulations throughout the festival.
Oxford Deputy Police Chief James Owens said these regulations are very important during Double Decker.
“Double Decker is a family and community event,” Owens said. “We try to keep it as close to family-friendly as we can. Open containers are not allowed on the Square, and we also do not like coolers with alcoholic beverages inside.”
The police usually do not encounter problems with enforcement, according to Owens.
“There are always a select few who may try to bring containers, but usually people comply when asked to throw them away,” he said.
Junior accountancy major Stephen Deguenther said he is agreement with these measures.
“I understand that the Square has a reputation for great bars and restaurants and wants to maintain a certain atmosphere, but part of what makes it reputable is the fact that it is a place for everyone, even the older and younger crowds,” Deguenther said. “We risk losing the character of the Square if we do not maintain certain guidelines.”
Owens added that people can consume alcohol in the restaurants and bars on the Square, but drinks purchased in the establishments must stay there.
Lee Harris, owner of local bar Funky’s, said that the regulations actually benefit local Oxford businesses.
“Double Decker brings 15,000 people to town,” Harris said. “Many of them are going to buy alcohol wherever they go, so you want to be good to them to encourage them to come into your establishment.”
Proud Larry’s owner Scott Caradine expressed the same sentiments as Harris.
“Nothing is really different from any other weekend — all the same rules apply,” he said. “The only difference is that it is just a really big weekend for all of the Oxford businesses.”
He added that the most enforcement they usually have to do is keep someone at the door to make sure no one tries to bring anything in or out.
Though the laws are designed to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere, some people disagree with them.
“To me, Double Decker is about getting out, listening to great music and walking around the Square on a fun, sunny day,” said Kyle Weaver, junior engineering major. “Open containers should be allowed so that people can do just that. I definitely understand the reasons for the law’s existence, but I don’t necessarily agree with them.”
Cristina Patton, a sophomore business student at another SEC school, is planning to visit Oxford during the Double Decker weekend but is slightly frustrated with the alcohol regulations.
“I think if you are 21 you should be allowed to have an open container, but I understand that that could be hard to regulate,” Patton said.
Although the measures may seem harsh, according to Owens, maintenance of the family atmosphere during Double Decker is important both to the city and to the police force.
– Mary Virginia Portera