By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2008
Laurette Willis, a professional actor, storyteller and playwright for over 25 years, is the special guest at this year’s Dickens on the Boulevard, November 21 at 7 p.m.
Downtown Claremore will travel back in time to the Victorian era on November 21 and 22 at the annual Dickens on the Boulevard event. Beginning at 6 p.m. each evening, this 19th-century style Christmas celebration is hosted by Claremore Main Street and kicks off downtown’s holiday shopping season with costumes, entertainment, food, historical tours, carriage rides, and much more.
Every year local personalities contribute to Dickens on the Boulevard by dressing up in Victorian clothing and becoming part of the storefronts’ living window displays. Guests strolling along the sidewalks of Claremore’s historic downtown district can peek into the windows and truly be transported back to the Victorian era.
Adding to the richness of the scenes will be entertainers, singers and street musicians. This year, through a grant provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oklahoma Arts Council, Laurette Willis will be featured Friday at 7 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to see this professional actor, storyteller and playwright of over 25 years in action.
Laurette has worked with students and teachers as a featured artist on the Oklahoma Arts Council Touring Roster since 1993. She studied theatre arts at New York University, Circle-in-the-Square, and Herbert Berghof Studios while working as an actor and improvisational comedienne off-Broadway in New York City. Nicknamed “The Woman of 101 Voices,” Laurette delights in helping people find their own voices in the arts through storytelling, visual arts and drama. “We are really excited to have Laurette Willis. She will be a wonderful addition to this year’s Dickens on the Boulevard,” says Cindy Bissett, director of Claremore Main Street.
The dress contest is always a favorite at Dickens on the Boulevard. Participants are encouraged to arrive in their best Victorian finery: top hats, spats, long tresses and frilly dresses. Beginning at 7:30 on both evenings, a competition will be held to select the best-dressed woman, man, couple, boy and girl. “We will be judging people as they are walking around downtown,” says Bissett.
In addition, tours will be available of the second stories of several historical buildings in downtown Claremore. “People can see what happened in these rooms in the past through storytelling,” says Bissett. “They will also be able to see what the rooms looked like when they served as doctors’ offices, boarding houses and more.” Tickets for the tours will cost a small fee, with a limited number of people allowed on each tour.
Carriage rides and trips to the Belvidere Mansion are also on the fun list of things to do at Dickens on the Boulevard. The event coincides with Christmas at the Belvidere, when the mansion is bustling with activity and adorned with beautiful Christmas trees and holiday decorations.
Both evenings of Dickens on the Boulevard will feature the opportunity to learn the art of Victorian-style dancing. Streets will be blocked off in preparation for the dance lessons, scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. each night.
The Artisan Village is a great place to pick up a souvenir or a few Christmas gifts. Approximately 15 artisans will be on hand selling crafts and wares styled after the Victorian era. “We’re expecting to have weavers, blacksmiths, quilters and a glassblower,” says Bissett.
With all the fun and excitement, Dickens guests are sure to get hungry. A Victorian food court will be offering traditional selections such as stew, beans and cornbread.
For more information about Dickens on the Boulevard, or to volunteer, call Cindy Bissett at Claremore Main Street. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for this wonderful yearly event November 21 and 22, featuring special guest Laurette Willis.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.