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Port Jefferson Dickens Festival canceled for 2020

Characters in period costumes on the streets of

Characters in period costumes on the streets of Port Jefferson are part of the annual Charles Dickens Festival. Credit: Linda Rosier

The village of Port Jefferson is shouting a collective "Bah Humbug!" with the cancellation of its annual Charles Dickens Festival due to the coronavirus pandemic in what would have been its 25th year.

The annual two-day festival typically draws 10,000 people over the first weekend in December to the waterside village with festive activities modeled after classic scenes in the English author's Victorian tales — artisan craft sellers, characters in elaborate period costumes wandering the streets, decorated house tours and Theatre Three’s annual production of "A Christmas Carol."

Mayor Margot Garant said the annual two-day festival is too big a draw to comply with social distancing guidelines and the village must "honor and respect the need to protect our public, our cherished volunteer base and the establishments and houses of worship who traditionally open their doors to host the festivities."

However, plans are in the works to salvage one element of the event — the Festival of Trees at the Village Center. "Each tree is sponsored and decorated by a different local organization or business," said village clerk Barbara Sakovich. The idea is to extend the display through the month of December, along with a food drive, with a limited amount of people being permitted to enter the building at a time to see the decorations.

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