Dickens 101

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By Nishè Butler | Interm Inscape Editor

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Albert Melendez / Special to Viewpoints

Is it possible that Charles Dickens is back?

It appears I have encountered some type of time machine and have entered London, England during the 1830’s.

A beautiful overcast day, the smell of sweet kettle corn fills my nostrils and the sound of children laughing and playing it seems as though the London marketplace is open.

The 20th annual Dickens Festival officially opened on Saturday, at 10 a.m.

The ceremony opened with hoisting of the British flag where Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens and Mr. Pickwick of Pickwick papers were all present.

Oliver’s alley opened where children of all ages could take part in enjoying the Victorian era toys such as hand spun wooden tops, jacks, marbles and the game of grace where two children hold two wooden sticks and pass around a ribbon circle to and from, only using the sticks to catch the ribbon, this game was intended to teach young ladies grace.

London marketplace, where a variety of Victorian vendors sold the most eclectic of items from the Victorian era, Shopping was available from costumes to wooden castle blocks, plenty of food, book sales, tea and ale pub.

The streets were filled with people of all ages.

The festival centers in the Victorian era which the famous author Charles Dickens wrote and lived.

Dickens is known for writing about the impoverished as well as seeing children as the future opposed to not considering them at all.

The event not only represents London, during the mid-1800s, but also that of the United States.

At this time Dickens life and stories were unfolding to be the National Treasures they are today.

Volunteers filled the character roles of Charles Dickens played by Paul Jacques, other roles included characters from “Oliver Twist,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “Hard Times.”

Volunteers also played the roles of the very convincing variations of the ladies and gentleman of the time including a full royal court that included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Paul Jacques who has played the role of Dickens for the last nine years said, “It is an amazing day of family fun and I am very fortunate and enjoy playing the part.”

“Charles Dickens stood for literacy and human rights,” Jacques said “I am truly honored to have this role.”

The day was full with a Victorian fashion show, boutiques, the grand Dickens Parade at noon, author salons, lectures such as Dickens 101, Ye olde book shoppe, Hyde Park Corner where the up and coming could share their opinions and even a Valkyrie Metal works station.

There was even an opportunity to meet the queen.

The day was equipped so that any respectable lady, gentleman or child could enjoy themselves.

Entertainment also included Mr. Fezzwig’s Ball, “The Crummles Troupe” and the amazing time machine act, Queens’ Tea, children’s tea, “Shaping things to come” which is a debate between H.G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain on the proper direction of social evolution.

Gordon Highlanders Drill and Firing demonstration, also present a phrenologist who reads the individual based on the shape of their cranium considering this X-rays/MRI were not an option.

The Dickens Festival began about 20 years ago with ‘Friends of the Library’ sponsoring the first year.

The current Dickens Festival President for three years running is Janet Funderburk.

Funderburk began volunteering at the church she grew up in for the Queens tea.

It was held at the downtown congregational church seven years prior.

She later had the opportunity to join the Dickens festival board where she and her husband were then knighted at the Grand March ball in 2008 Janet is now Dame of Mount. Rubidoux and her husband is Knight of the Royal order of Mt. Rubidoux.

“I am pleased as punch, what a wonderful festival!” Funderburk said.

“It takes a village to do what we do and we all cooperate and work hard with each other, we have very committed organizers who follow through and really help fundraise.” Funderburk said.

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