Victorian Charm Abounds During Holly Dickens Festival
From chimney sweeps to the Queen, and even Ebenezer Scrooge himself, lads and lasses of all ages and social classes come together to partake in the festivities of the Holly Dickens Festival.
The event runs the three weekends following Thanksgiving, concluding this year on Dec. 15. It kicked off with the annual lighted parade and tree lighting ceremony that included a dramatic entrance by Santa Claus.
But the stars of the weekend are the Victorian-era dressed characters mingling among the crowd in the quaint, historic downtown. Familiar faces from the classic Charles Dicken’s story “A Christmas Carol” include Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Fezziwig’s, and sometimes even the Ghost of Christmas past. There are also children playing chimney sweepers, their faces smudged with soot, who play games in the streets and sometime break out into dance and song.
Local merchants join in the fun too, with strings of lights and boughs of evergreen garland framing the thoughtfully-decorated windows. Inside shoppers chat with the owners of small businesses and dine in the cozy cafes. Across the railroad tracks, in the former fire station, is Santa’s headquarters and a great place to go stay warm and enjoy kids’ activities.
The streets are lined with vendors too. Among them last weekend was author Richard K. Morris of Highland Township. He had copies of his paperback “Friends, Snowmen, Countrymen, Be of Good Cheer: A Tale of Christmas Time.”
He said the book involves a man who is new to a small town, who sets out to build a snow family to make a neighbor kid happy for Christmas. “It’s inspired by slapstick style comedy,” Morris said. “Something people will feel good reading.”
And as the pages of literature come to life through the Village of Holly, there are dozens of volunteers like Angie Broegman Stindie and Josh Murphy who help keep the show running behind the scenes. Stindie and Murphy teamed up to run the Dickens Festival Stage, which hosts dancers, school groups, musicians, and even sketches that include members of the audience reading lines of Dickens’ work. The pair handles the technical stuff to make that happen.
“I do the sound for pretty much every event in Holly including the newly installed downtown sound system,” Murphy said when asked what his volunteer duties were for the day. “Plus I kinda run around helping out with whatever is needed, placing vendors, answering questions, fixing problems, etc. ” He also serves on the board for the event.
“I do it to see the smiling faces in the crowd and seeing all of the photos on Facebook the next day of happy people having a good time. We all pour our heart and soul into these events for just that reason.”
Those who want to be among those smiling faces still have one more weekend to attend the Holly Dickens Festival. Learn more at HollyDickensFestival.org.