Scattered Clouds 43° Good Evening
Scattered Clouds 43° Good Evening
Long Island

Port Jefferson’s annual Dickens Festival meets great expectations

Nancy Lee Cortes of Miller Place is double

Nancy Lee Cortes of Miller Place is double teamed by the Chimney Sweeps Oliver and Joseph during the Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. Photo Credit: John Griffin

Among the bonnets, bogus British accents and hoop skirts in downtown Port Jefferson on Saturday, one could easily pretend they had transported into a Dickensian story.

The village’s 20th Dickens Festival was celebrated by transforming village main streets into snapshots resembling 19th century London. Two horse-drawn carriages made their way down Main Street in a continuous loop, the clopping of hoofs hitting the pavement in time with the jingle of bells on their harnesses.

An old-school constable sporting fake muttonchops briefly pursued a soot-covered boy in a plaid newsboy cap and fingerless gloves, who was suspected of “pickpocketing.”

It was all an act, but it helped usher people on the streets into the holiday mood. As a clique of “chimney sweeps” roamed the village, greeting and guffawing in loud Cockney accents, revelers ran up to them and asked to pose for pictures.

“Happy holidays!” boomed George Overin, celebrating his 17th year as a chimney sweep in the festival. A chorus of voices returned his greeting, and he beamed.

“This is such a wonderful time of year,” Overin said, adding that Charles Dickens, author of such classics as “Great Expectations,” is one of his favorite scribes.

“We walk down the streets and we see people heavy with the holidays, and they see these two idiots dressed in soot smiling at them . . . and they smile. And the weight that comes off of them comes off of us. . . . If we can bring a little bit of joy for a short period of time, that makes it complete, we’ve done our job.”

As brief skits of “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol” were performed in the street near the harbor, dozens waited in line outside the Island Church for the horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown.

The Kubat family of Massapequa waited for 90 minutes but were in good spirits and enjoying the unseasonably mild weather.

“It’s unique; it’s a fun family experience,” Kerri Kubat said. Her daughter, Rebecca Kubat, 10, was in awe of the period costumes and excited to ride in a carriage for the first time.

“I like seeing all the different people and seeing them dressed up,” she said.

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