Story and Photography By Carolyn Bowers

On November 30 and December 1, 2012, Southport joined cities and towns all over the world in commemorating Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday.

For the Charles Dickens Christmas Festival, the Town of Southport was transformed into a scene right out of a Victorian village. Men, women and children dressed in authentic Victorian clothes strolled in the park. Street vendors peddled flowers, puppeteers told stories, carolers sang on street corners, and actors performed in period plays. High tea was served in old Victorian-style tea houses. Mr. Fezziwig’s Christmas ball was held at the Masonic lodge, and a variety show was staged at the Amuzu Theater. Musical performances went on in every chapel in town. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert greeted visitors, and Tiny Tim limped with his crutch along the streets. Santa listened to each child’s Christmas wish list while an elf took their picture. And everywhere, there were smiles.

It was a joyous time to remember and celebrate the life and times of Dickens, who is considered to be the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and who is the creator of some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters. Who could ever forget Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, or Fagin and The Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist, or Pip in Great Expectations, to name only a few?

Brunswick Arts Council (BAC) sponsored the festival under the leadership of Festival Chair Sue MacCallum, her sister, Co-Chair Meg Dellinger, and BAC President Jeanette Serens. The committee estimated that more than 3,000 visitors enjoyed the 50 performances.

BAC hopes to make the Charles Dickens Festival an annual event and fund-raiser for their organization. They plan to use to funds to continue to achieve their mission, which is “to inspire and promote appreciation, education and support for a broad range of arts and cultural interests for the benefit of Brunswick County’s artists and art-related organizations, students and the community at large.”

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