Classic Christmas

Tue, 12/11/2007 - 5:00pm
By: The Citizen

Dickens Village opens tonight

Classic Christmas

“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 will open to the public tonight after much preparation and hard work.

“Dickens Village is an experience like no other,” said 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 of Dickens Village, and, according to Febrey, each year it takes more and more volunteers to pull off this huge event due to the growth of the village. 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.

“It’s not uncommon to see volunteers live their parts,” stated this year’s event director, Pennie VanArsdale. “We start noticing volunteers growing beards and sideburns and talking in English accents weeks before the event begins.”

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,” said VanArsdale. “We’re anticipating over 8,000 visitors this year at the event and many will visit more than once.”

This year, Dickens Village is excited to bring back by popular demand the Heritage adult drama. In this year’s production, “A Christmas Tale,” visitors will enjoy a unique spin on the meaning of Christmas.

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.

“You won’t want to miss the special event, Tiny Tim’s Celebration of Giving, which will be highlighted in the New Worlde Village,” said VanArsdale. “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.” According to VanArsdale, the event raised over $15,000 for the school last year. This year, Joseph Sams will treat visitors to a special performance from their school choir and chime choir on Friday evening of the event.

VanArsdale added, “This year’s Bethlehem Village will return with an all new feel that is guaranteed to remind you what Christmas is all about. 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,” VanArsdale noted.

Dickens Village begins tonight and runs through Sunday, Dec. 16, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly. This year’s visitors 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 and is open to all residents.

Heritage Christian Church is located at 2130 Redwine Road, Fayetteville. For more details, including a schedule of performances, go to or contact the church office at 770-716-5768.

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Submitted by zincc on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 11:07pm.

If you haven't had a chance to visit Dickens Village yet - well, you must find time to get there. Enchanting, nostalgic, fun, - these adjectives just don't do the event justice. Go visit the village, you will be very glad that you did!

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