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Downtown gets a victorian makeover

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By Desiree Perez

Ken LeDuc cleans an original 1897 Gatling gun, which has been heavily restored. (Christopher Dietrich)

By Desiree Perez

Picture a Star Trek convention except everyone is in late 19th century attire. That was the scene on the streets of Downtown Riverside the weekend of Feb. 2, when crowds gathered for the annual Charles Dickens Festival.

There were dozens of actors and volunteers dressed in period attire. Minstrels and peasants roamed the streets. Many were not specific characters, but merely took on roles and personas to fit the life and times of Dickens. Others were representing characters from Dickens’ most celebrated novels.

Pedestrians would gather in the closed off streets to watch the actors perform snippets of Dickens’ work. After their performances, actors portraying characters like David Copperfield and Tiny Tim walked the streets, still in persona.

Most interesting, however, were the actors who portrayed actual historical figures. Her Majesty Queen Victoria made a royal appearance. Sue Honor, who portrayed the queen, had her own tent completely furnished in the Victorian style. People hoping to take pictures with her had to address her statesman and get permission first.

Actor and history buff Andy Bradshaw portrayed American Civil War admiral David Porter. Bradshaw was so passionate about the real life war hero, that he was able to deliver a brief biography on Porter to any person who was interested.

In addition to experiencing the sights and sounds, people could also purchase items in the style of the era. Corsets and trinkets with Celtic knots were for sale in every other booth on the street. One booth in particular sold the written works of Dickens that the festival honored.

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