Dickens parade of costuming, music, volunteering and community spirit

Have you got your Dickens costume ready? Always wanted to dress up but never quite hit the timing right? That happened to me a bunch of years ago – it occurred to me a couple of days before the festival that I really should dress up. But I had no idea how to do that. So, thank goodness for good old Google!

I found an online Victorian museum, got a good look at the shape, headed to The Bargain shop and bought some tablecloths – yes – tablecloths. (there was no sewing supply store in town at the time) and then I dredged up my old high-school sewing skills and voila – a Dickens costume.

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Then I made the matching hat. My friend, Emily, always told me that my had looked like an ironing board, and she probably had a point, but I had a hat. So that was all I was going for. I’ve since “upgraded” the old costume and have retired the ironing board (I mean, hat) but you get the idea! A good costume really just takes a few minutes of creativity, perhaps a quick google moment and (sometimes) access to a glue gun!

Now, as we look on the street during Dickens, we see all sorts of Victorian garb; from Bobbies in their blue uniforms, to fancy dress outfits like the deluxe dress which Lorri Solomon sports, to the low-class maid outfits complete with mop hats, waifs in slouch hats and homespun pants. And of course we get growled at by Ebeneezer Scrooge himself, replete with fancy period garb.

We’ll see the many crafted hats at the United Church courtesy of the amazing Irene Doty, and many handsome men in full top hat and tails. We see the many outfits handily sewn by Shelley Slykhuis, and many more crafted using tree skirts as shawls. It’s a veritable panoply of costuming – including hats which closely resemble miniature ironing boards.

For those sporting a costume of any sort, please stop by Fezziwig’s pub (aka the Carlyle Memorial Hall) and sign the guest book, because then you’ll have a chance to spin the wheel for a special Dickens prize as a thank you for supporting the festival.

Because running an event like this really does take a whole village (or town). The businesses are busily decorating their storefronts in anticipation (and taking advantage of some lovely weather to do so) many organizations around town are preparing their lighted float for the 6pm parade which happens both Friday and Saturday. I’m sure the many children around town are finding a good bag into which they can put all the candy they collect!

The Karate club is providing the free (donation to the food bank) pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, so are busy getting supplies and volunteer lists ready.

The United Church folk have decorated their trees, and are baking scones and making vats and vats of tea in preparation for the High Tea celebration.

The Catholic Church is preparing the chowder, the many community groups have started getting their food booths ready, and the folks who shall be selling at the Victorian market are madly involved with preparations to show off their hand-made wares at the Elementary school location.

And Cornerstone theatre is busy rehearsing their latest offering of the Christmas Carol (this year it’s a Pirate number), and really – I mean seriously- you’ll need to get a good look at the sculpture which Paul Twietmeyer has created for the play. I don’t think we can call this creation a set for a play; handcrafted water wheels, bridge wheels, mizzen mast and sails – the whole shebang. Just getting an up-close look at this will be worth the price of admission. If you can still buy a ticket, that is. They do tend to sell out rather rapidly for the three official productions.

If you cannot make those because you’re busy working at the festival, just pop on down to the dress rehearsal on Dec. 4th at 7pm. You’ll get a good idea of the shenanigans which happens spontaneously as the crew puts together a production, and you can just toss a $20 into the collection plate – a percentage of which is designated for the local food bank.

And watch next week ( or on Facebook) when the entire line up for the free music festival is unveiled! Old tyme dance, Country Gospel hour, Cratchitt kids’ production, Danny Kazam’s magic show – and special festival guest Dale Mac (roots and blues recording artist). It’s going to be amazing – so plan to put on your fancy dress and parade on down to Fezziwig’s for a great community gathering over the Dickens Festival weekend. December 6 and 7.

© Copyright Carlyle Observer


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