Family (Christmas) Traditions: Dickens Village

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I think everyone here is pretty much familiar with the 1843 story of The Christmas Carol: you know, the one about that old miser who hates everything, especially Christmas, until he is visited by four ghosts  (yes, there are four - everyone leaves out poor old Marley), who tell him if he doesn't change his ways he is pretty much going to die alone and miserable and everyone will spit on his grave for all of eternity. (Okay, so the story is really far more elegant that that crude description, but you get the point.) But what you probably aren't familiar with is the Dicken's Village right here in Philadelphia!

The Dicken's Village is as almost life size display of Victorian London that tells the famous Charles Dickens tale of The Christmas Carol through still and  animatronic dolls and figurines complete with authentic dress, music, and tiny homes and shops. The Village was originally located at 8th and Market at the Strawbridge and Clothier shop where I barely remember ever visiting it. It began in 1985 and remained there for nearly two decades. In 2006 the nearly forgotten Village made its way to 13th & Chestnut where the now Macy's Department store set it up in the location of the former Egyptian Room on the 3rd floor of the building.

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Although the exhibit remains stationary throughout the year, it is only open to visitors for the Christmas season. It opens on Black Friday and closes New Years Day and can be visited from 10AM until 7PM. If you visit before Christmas, little ones can pay Santa Claus a visit at the end of the line and have their photo taken with the Big Guy as well. Also, this year they were giving out prepaid postage boxes to collect toys for The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which was great and I hope they keep it up next year.

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Although a lot of little children were afraid of certain sections of the Village (with spooky ghosts and quivering Scrooge shouting "I will change! I will change! and all), the night before we watched the old black and white A Christmas Carol and Eamon kept saying he wanted to "see the ghosts." he was even more excited to speed through the chaos so that he could tell Santa the one thing he wanted for Christmas - Gordon (I don't think I can express this kids obsession with Thomas and Friends enough)! And despite the excitement of the crowds around you, you will want to take your time strolling through the exhibit otherwise you really won't be able to appreciate the craftsmanship of the sight. The only thing missing is the smell of cinnamon and a pint (which is why we usually make our way over to McGillan's Olde Ale House afterwards.)

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There's still time to visit the sight if you're in the Philadelphia area for New Years Eve. While you're in the building, don't forget to visit the famous Macy's Light Show as well and make sure to stick around for the world famous Mummer's Parade New Years Day!


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