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20th edition of Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles opens Nov. 29

A scene from a past Dickens Christmas.

A scene from a past Dickens Christmas.

When the “World’s Smallest Christmas Parade” kicks off Nov. 29, opening the 20th season of Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles, it will feature three renditions of Charles Dickens.

Jim Greene, who has played Dickens for more than a decade, will be joined by the production’s first Dickens, Ted Davenport, grand marshal for the parade, and Kim Tenreiro, who will present a one-man dramatization of “A Christmas Carol” during the show’s final weekend.

The parade starts at noon at the Skaneateles village hall on Fennell Street, proceeding east to Jordan and Genesee streets and arriving at the Sherwood Inn porch in time for the 12:10 p.m. grand opening.

Dickens Christmas is produced by Scarlett Rat Entertainment. It runs noon to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 22, with a limited show (noon to 3 p.m.) on Dec. 24.

“The production wasn’t always the polished version it is today — in the beginning, we really struggled,” Davenport said. “That first year, we thought we had an arrangement with an acting group in Syracuse, but no one showed up. So I grabbed some friends, put them in costume, and about 10 of us did the show ourselves.”

The cast now numbers 70, and Dickens Christmas attracts more than 20,000 visitors each year.

In Skaneateles, it is 1842, and Charles Dickens is gathering research for his soon-to-be-written classic, “A Christmas Carol.” On village streets, he encounters Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, DeWitt Clinton (retired governor of New York who championed the Erie Canal), President William Henry Harrison and a bevy of other characters ranging from finishing school girls to pickpockets.

Magic, music and merriment prevail, as the revels play and guests ride by in horse–drawn carriages.

“Street theater is up close and personal, and it provides a wonderful experience for the actors, as well as for visitors,” Davenport said. “I thoroughly enjoyed playing Dickens.”

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