For over 60 years, Dickens Village has come to life in the heart of downtown Maplewood every holiday season. For the month of December, Ricalton Square is transformed into a small village of homes depicting various scenes from the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in addition to other seasonal festivities such as photos with Santa, menorah, and tree lightings, a petting zoo, and wagon rides. Read on to learn more about this longtime holiday tradition in Maplewood.
History of the Event
Organizer Ellen Davenport, a Maplewood resident and former mayor of the town, recalls that when she first brought her son to visit in 1971, the village began with six small houses in the square. Since then, due to the growing popularity and with the continued support of local businesses and volunteers, there are now nine houses with plans to add more every few years.
All year round, Ellen, together with the Maplewood Village Alliance and the sponsors, plan, organize and assemble the homes as well coordinate the featured events. Business and building owners in town fundraise money and a network of about 30 volunteers put all the pieces together, both large and small.
A Fictional World
Even for visitors who are unfamiliar with the story of A Christmas Carol, the level of detail created in each of the scenes is something worth traveling to Maplewood to enjoy. The homes are all approximately 8 feet by 10 feet with real shingles on the roof, siding, and have glass windows on the exterior. The homes are fitted with custom furniture and home goods on the inside.
The Grocer’s Shoppe, for example, is one of the original houses and is stocked with a few pantry items, fresh produce, and baked goods on display: everything looks as if it were real.
Ebenezer Scrooge can be found in his home being visited by a few spirits, and in the Cratchit House, visitors will find a full turkey dinner set on the table. One of the newer additions includes a Victorian Conservatory, which is filled with a mix of plants and shrubs, donated by the Maplewood Garden Club.
Every Saturday through December 18th the houses are open for viewing in addition to live entertainment provided by DJ Jimmy and photos with Santa. Weather permitting, there will also be a petting farm and wagon rides available for the kids.
What ultimately distinguishes Dickens Village from other holiday gatherings is the pride felt by the community and the joy it brings to each and every one of its visitors from near or far. Former mayor Vic Deluca said this about the local tradition, “It’s really become a major part of the holiday spirit here in Maplewood.”
To plan a visit to the Dickens Village, please visit the website here.