How many people can you fit into a tiny Square?
Someone on the Oxford Square suggested the other day that preparedness might be a good idea.
“Get ready,” they said.
Get ready as in, here it comes.
“Time for a last supper,” they said.
As in, Oxford’s most popular restaurants can get so crowded on key nights in the fall that you have to yield those times to the more determined from out of town.
The Square, for better and worse, draws them in by thousands these days come fall, so a sleepy summer of an easy table at St. Leo at 6 will go by the wayside soon.
Move in days, after all, is just around the corner.
Six mommas and three daddies for every child coming to Ole Miss to get them situated into a tiny dormitory room — that’s what it feels like around here on move in days.
That’s why it all starts earlier now than it used to, the crunch on the Square, since once the big sweaty move from the over-sized family means evening refreshment required.
It’s all a big lead up to the crescendo, which will happen on the Friday night before the Alabama game here next month.
As recently as the 1980s the Square barely moved at all on fall Friday nights, even before the biggest games. All required for getting a parking place was avoiding a few dozen Oxford teens cruising the town in Jeeps with ragtops and loud music blaring from cars.
They parked in front of Neilsen’s, when stopped, while the Ole Miss students that had ventured from campus crowded the Gin and the Warehouse bars down the hill, away from the Square.
Meanwhile, the crowds and alcohol flowed freely on campus at fraternity houses, with vodka punch mixed in trash cans for visitors to swig while bands played loudly and long into the night. Nobody dared think about heading to the Square.
Oxford’s lonely center, as a result, more closely resembled the Square of small-town Holly Springs 30 miles to the north, small and quiet and stuck in time.
Now, though, Oxford’s Square makes us The Little Easy when it cranks up, into high gear.
And that’s both wonderful and not so wonderful, depending on the time and where one is in life at the moment.
On the biggest nights, you can pay an $80 cover charge just to get inside a select bar on the Square. They charge that, because they can, and the crowds will be lined up outside the door trying to get in.
Roughly 10,000 people can legally fit into the Square and its surrounding establishments these days at full capacity, and that’s about what the entire population of the City of Oxford was 15 years ago.
That’s not counting the other 10,000 or more milling the streets, either, turning the Square into the world’s largest patio bar.
So it’s easy to understand why someone suggested this week that preparedness is in order.
Get ready, indeed.
Everything on the Square changes, starting this weekend.
David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. You can reach him at email@example.com.