The 25th annual Charles Dickens Festival may be quarantined until next year, but Santa himself may be coming down from the North Pole for some socially distanced festivities come December.
Village and chamber officials both confirmed the annual Dickens fest is moving to next year, skipping this year to host their quarter-century event. Though Charles Dickens won’t appear on any of the taglines or advertising, there will still be holiday-based events.
The village is hosting what’s been dubbed A Touch of Holiday Cheer on the three Saturdays before Christmas.
“What we really would like to see happen is on the Saturday’s through December, we can find some small ways for having people come down and celebrate the holiday season,” Mayor Margot Garant said.
Although Garant said that not hosting the festival’s 25th anniversary is “gut-wrenching,” they do not want to create an atmosphere that could become unsafe, since the festival normally brings in thousands of people Down Port.
“We want to give reasons for people to come down here, celebrate the day, do some local shopping, support our local markets,” she said. “That’s the underlying reason we do Dickens, after all, to be together and hopefully we have something to celebrate come December.”
A full list of happenings are still being determined, but the chamber has set several events already for the three December Saturdays before Christmas. Barbara Ransome, the executive director of the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said they still plan to do Cookie Land for kids to decorate cookies by appointment at the Village Center. The chamber will host a photo opportunity with Santa on his big red sleigh from 1 to 4 p.m. Children will be staged in front of the sleigh instead of their usual position on his lap so there will be no direct contact. People are also asked for a $5 donation to the chamber.
Garant added the Festival of Tress – with social distancing – is planned on the third floor of the village center, some outdoor concert and plays, as well as a performance from Setauket resident and singer Carolyn Benson. A belle choir is also scheduled for Dec. 5.
“It’s going to be an interesting season,” Garant said. “But I think the one thing that brings everyone together is the holidays, and I think we can all agree on that.”
More information on chamber events can be found at portjeffchamber.com
Additional reporting by Kyle Barr