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      DICKENS #37 CANCELLED by Barbara Biddison

      I believe it will rise again! This would have been the 37th consecutive Dickens of a Christmas. I'm not happy for the reason, but I am pleased that we are not inviting thousands of people to Wellsboro during a pandemic. It can be revived when it's safe to do so, but until then we will keep as many of our people alive and well as we can. And it is so much fun to reminisce about the past 36 years, and that's where we will go now. We go way back for this one. Larry and I have been on the street, in costume, for all 36 years. I in my homemade bonnet and my Christmas tree skirt turned into a cape. And Larry in his antique top hat and his London Bobby's heavy wool cape. We have been asked to pose for a picture thousands of times I suppose, and the "payment" we always requested was to have the person(s) tell us where they are from. Answers ranged from foreign countries to local folks at their first Dickens. We've met lots of wonderful people who were having a grand time in Wellsboro.

      It started out very small. Bob Williams is credited with inspiring the Dickens of a Christmas name. The story goes that when asked what we should do for the community to celebrate Christmas, Bob responded with something like, "Whatever we do we ought to have a dickens of a good time." And we have, for 36 years so far. That first year Bob had his popcorn machine on the street making popcorn, and there were a few people in costume and a few small groups singing Christmas songs. Main Street was not blocked off. Not much to start with, but the idea caught on and it grew and grew and grew. And many of us who were on the street that first year continued to participate. Soon there were skits, and larger choral groups, and Main Street with horse and wagon but no cars, and vendors, and indoor treats at the Gmeiner and the Green Free, and all the local churches offered activities as well as a place to warn your feet. Then Hamilton-Gibson began the CHRISTMAS CAROL productions, eventually adding two different casts for two different theatres. And most recently HG took to the streets with the Fezziwig crew. One if my favorite HG street acts was when the boys from the first OLIVER appeared weaving their way through the crowd with Thomas Putnam as Fagan leading the way.
      There are many stories. I hope we'll hear more of them now, during this intermission.

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