Many street characters that made the 24th Annual Dickens Festival the lively event so many people come to experience. Photo by Ed Shin

The 24th Annual Village of Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival held on December 7 and 8 is in the history books with up to 30,000 visitors celebrating the cherished traditions and spectacular new additions of this signature Long Island holiday event.

From the opening Grand East Main Street parade on Saturday to the closing Pickwick’s Puppet Parade on Sunday and all the 142 events in between, the festival added a sparkle and a smile to all attendees.

“Each year the production team at the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council sifts through a virtual potpourri of ideas fashioned to make each Dickens Festival more spectacular than the previous year’s offering,” said Allan Varela, chair of the Arts Council. “This year featured a show-stopping presentation of the new giant puppets appearing in the grand closing Pickwick’s Puppet Parade. These creations presented an unforgettable spectral spectacle that thrilled both the young and young at heart. Created by 3D computer and practical artists Gen Varela and Vin Blangiardo through a grant from Riverhead Toyota and Toyota Corporation, the new puppets joined the long list of events around the Village that make each year’s Festival a family favorite.”

The breathtaking Festival of Trees, featuring 20 Christmas trees decorated to the nines by participating sponsors, yielded a Hollywood-level experience that is held throughout the month of December at the Port Jefferson Village Center. The whimsical Santa’s Workshop, an incredible tribute to Christmas of yesteryear, created by the celebrated confection artist Pat Darling, was on every person’s “must see” list.

Oliver Twist’s Artisan Square featured skilled crafts people demonstrating how hand-crafted works were made during Victorian England. The Harbor Master’s building on West Broadway was the home to the wonderful Tiny Tim’s Train Station (a Toys-for-Tots location), presented by the Reed Family Train Project, which showcased multiple highly decorated train tables with model trains of all types coursing around the room.

Rounding out the weekend were the involving performances of our roving troupe of over 130 Dickens street characters. From enacting Dickensian skits at the various “natural” outdoor stages around the Village to groups of costumed players visiting local restaurants singing carols, the volunteer core of performers, both area students and professional actors, brought Victorian England alive in the Village.

Horse and Carriage rides circled the Village, while area churches were alive with musical presentations. Theatre Three presented A Christmas Carol while the Harbor Ballet offered The Nutcracker. The Masonic Lodge hosted a magic show, Little Folks Music and a lively Fezziwig’s Dance Party that presented traditional Contra Dancing that was new to Victorian England. WBLI’s Ray Atkin led the closing parade with dance moves that generated joy!

The Charles Dickens Festival delighted even the Scroogiest of curmudgeons. Planning for the 25th annual festival has already commenced.

John Gambo, Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant, Margaret Rose. Photo by Ed Shin.
F. to B.: Jill Loucks, Mayor Margot Garant, Barbara Sakovich, Jenn Hildreth, Trustee Kathianne Snaden, Lisa Harris and Trustee Stan Loucks. Photo by Ed Shin.
Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant with members of the Amityville Pipe Band amazed the crowds in the Opening parade of the Dickens Festival. Photo by Ed Shin.
Alan Varella. Photo by Ed Shin.
Barbara Sakovich, Assistant to the Mayor. Photo by Ed Shin.
Sue Orifici. Photo by Ed Shin.
L. to R.: Trustee Stan Loucks, Mayor Margot Garant, Barbara Sakovich, Jill Loucks, Lori Accardo, Tommy Hoffman. Photo by Ed Shin.
Horse Carriage Rides. Photo by Ed Shin.
The Dickens Trolley, a popular and free way to get around the Festival and to parking areas. Photo by Ed Shin.
Brunch with Santa at the Dansford Hotel. Photo by Ed Shin.
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