November 2015: Locals and visitors alike put on their best Victorian-era costumes and head downtown for the annual event that kicks off the holiday season in Claremore. Dickens on the Boulevard is a Victorian-themed Christmas festival held in historic downtown, where attendees enjoy live stage entertainment, authentic chuck wagon meals, pictures with Santa, a living nativity and much more. This year’s event will be held Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21, from 6 to 10 p.m. each night. The event is free and open to the public.
With the closing of downtown to traffic, families can safely stroll, dance or ride by wagon down the historic main street beginning at 6. Dancing will begin at 8 p.m. both nights. Victorian street dances will include the Grand March, Venetian Waltz, Virginia Reel and others. Returning this year will be the Territorial Marshalls, who will reenact a gunfight and meet people in their saloon, where you can buy nonalcoholic beverages such as Peanut Sarsaparilla and learn old-time card games. In addition, the Tri-State Gunfighters will be performing a salute.
Living window displays will pepper the downtown area, while period craftsmen such as a blacksmith and wood turners answer questions from the crowd as they perform their craft and sell their wares.
“We encourage those who attend to wear Victorian-era costumes as well,” said Jessica Jackson, director of Claremore Main Street. “A lot of our volunteers will be dressed up, and it really adds to the fun feel of the event. A costume contest will be held each night with great prizes awarded to those with the best costumes.” Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: man, woman, couple, young man, young woman, boy and girl.
Another favorite of the event, “Tales from the Top” will return this year. These tours of the upper floors of some of Claremore’s historic downtown buildings – including The Cranberry Merchant, Boarding House Books, Heinz Jewelry, Homeward Bound and The Will Rogers Hotel – will feature costumed actors portraying animated versions of the city’s history. The tours are $10 per person and can be booked in advance. Space for the tours is limited to 60 people per night.
Children will have the opportunity to have their photo taken with Santa, and local groups will provide onstage entertainment. In addition to the entertainment Dickens on the Boulevard provides, it also the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. For this two-night event, many of the wonderful specialty shops that line the downtown strip stay open until 8 p.m. This allows shoppers who may not be able to make it during regular business hours a chance to shop locally for unique items. Shoppers can also register for door prizes and a nightly drawing of “Dickens Dollars” to be given away before the dance. This prize can be used in any participating downtown store.
“We’re excited to have a couple of new events at Dickens this year,” added Jackson. “The J.M. Davis Gun Museum will host a BB gun shooting arena. Also new will be the addition of vendors dressed in Victorian costumes selling a variety of items on Main Street.”
Jackson said Dickens on the Boulevard is always in need of volunteers. Call Claremore Main Street to learn more. “Dickens on the Boulevard has become a tradition in downtown through the hard work of the great business owners, volunteers and the Claremore Main Street program,” said Jackson. “This is just another way for us to celebrate Claremore’s rich tradition and enjoy our present in the heart of the city.”
See more about It’s a Dickens of a Time: