Heritage readies for opening of annual ‘Dickens Village’

Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:43pm
By: The Citizen

Heritage readies for opening of annual ‘Dickens Village’

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” at Heritage Christian Church in Fayetteville. The annual Dickens Village that has become a Fayette County tradition is starting to take shape for 2007 and will be open to the public Dec. 12-16 from 6-9 p.m.

“Dickens Village is an experience like no other”, says Shellye Febrey, first impressions minister at Heritage Christian Church. “It takes you on a sentimental journey back in time to a re-created Victorian Village where families can share the warmth and love of the Christmas season.”

This is the seventh year Heritage has hosted Dickens Village.

“Each year it takes more and more volunteers to pull off this huge event due to the growth of the Village,”Febrey said. “This year, more than 800 volunteers will be involved with Dickens from start to finish. While many work behind the scenes, others will don a 19th century English costume to create the atmosphere of Dickens Village or a costume from Bethlehem to share the story of the birth of Jesus.”

Pennie VanArsdale, this year’s event coordinator, says it’s not uncommon to see volunteers “live their parts.”

“We start noticing volunteers growing beards and sideburns and talking in English accent weeks before the event begins,” she said. “Special dialect training classes are held in advance to prepare volunteers to perform in the Village. Once our Dickens characters dress in costume, they stay in character throughout the entire night as they interact with visitors. It’s a whole lot of fun for everyone.”

Heritage is anticipating more than 8,000 visitors this year and many are expected to visit more than once.

Back by popular demand is the Heritage Adult Drama. In this year’s production, “A Christmas Tale,” visitors will enjoy a unique spin on the meaning of Christmas.

Also this year, Dickens Village has grown to include the New Worlde Village. The New Worlde Theater will include performances from several local school choirs, the Heritage children’s drama “Hotel Bethlehem,” up and coming Christian artists, One Way Caravan and the featured performance by former 4Him singer/songwriter, Marty Magehee.

VanArsdale added, “You won’t want to miss the special event, ‘Tiny Tim’s Celebration of Giving,’ which will be highlighted in the New Worlde Village. Tiny Tim’s is our very popular silent auction of fully decorated trees, centerpieces, wreaths and other Christmas décor in which all proceeds benefit the Joseph Sams School.”

Last year, the event raised over $15,000 for the school. This year, Joseph Sams School will treat visitors to a special performance from their school choir and chime choir on Friday evening of Dickens.

“This year’s Bethlehem Village will return with an all new feel that is guaranteed to remind you what Christmas is all about,” Van Arsdale said. “Each night of Dickens, we will offer multiple performances of the Bethlehem Village drama. Bethlehem has been relocated to an area overlooking the large lake located on the Heritage Christian Church property. This move will give visitors to Bethlehem Village a more intimate setting which we are very excited about.”

This year’s visitors also will enjoy several shoppes including a Hot Cocoa Shoppe, Candle Shoppe, Photo Shoppe, Toy Shoppe and many more. Each shoppe is completely interactive and children will have the opportunity to create and bring home lots of memories of their visit.

Dickens Village is a free event, although tickets will be required for the Marty Magehee concert on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 7 pm. For more details, go to www.dickenshcc.com or contact the church office, 770-716-5768.

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