CLAREMORE – The air is getting cooler and soon Santas, snowmen and holly will be popping up everywhere. The onset of the holiday season in Claremore brings a historic flair as Dickens on the Boulevard hits the streets of downtown Claremore for the 25th year.
The Victorian-themed Christmas festival in the heart of downtown has been the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season for decades and comes back to Claremore on November 20th and 21st. Donning historic attire, the streets of downtown are flooded with shoppers enjoying the crisp winter air, holiday music and historic re-enactors.
“This event has always been a favorite, and to be able to celebrate its 25th anniversary makes this year’s event extra special for us” said Jacob Garrison, Claremore Main Street Executive Director. “We are excited to kick off the Christmas season in Downtown Claremore.”
To mark this special anniversary, an exciting new addition will be unveiled on Friday night. Thanks to the generosity of Grand River Damn Authority, along with the partnership with The City of Claremore Power & Light department, Claremore Main Street will be unveiling new, all-season lights that will light up the rooflines of the buildings along Main Street. These lights will be lit up year-round, adding to the beauty of Historic Downtown Claremore.
“We are so excited to see our new lights turned on during the first night of Dickens.” Garrison said. “GRDA, and the City of Claremore, are great partners of our organization. Their generous contribution to this project will be enjoyed for many years to come. I could not think of a better way to show off our new addition than at this year’s 25th Dickens on the Boulevard.”
Visitors will be greeted by actors in a “living window,” street urchins and even a chuckwagon feast to fill the three blocks of the historic downtown. Take a carriage ride through our downtown and stop for a drink of sarsaparilla at our saloon, – Wantland Public House — and a chance to play cards with the Territorial Marshals gives guests even more of that Victorian spirit.
Gearing up for Christmas, Santa Claus himself will be on site at 320 on Main for photos for $5, and just across the street will be a living nativity by Shepherd’s Cross.
A free Kids Zone will be available both nights, sponsored by Cedar Point Church.
Saturday only, Dickens on the Boulevard will feature a Dickens of a Cook-off Chili Cooking Contest. Participating businesses, nonprofits and individuals will begin in the afternoon and cook through 6 p.m., at which time public tasting will open. A limited number of tasting kits will be sold starting at 5:30 p.m. for $5 while supplies last.
Stores stay open during the event. Shoppers can qualify for the Dickens Dollars drawing by visiting each of the participating stores and asking for their complimentary ticket. Additional tickets may be available with purchases.
Dickens Dollars are gift certificates that spend like cash at participating stores. There are multiple drawings each night. Winners receive Dickens Dollars, which are good to spend through Christmas Eve.
At 6:15 p.m. both nights, the stage entertainment will kick off with live music from Jerry Pringle.
Follow the stage entertainment, the annual shootout will take place at 7:45 p.m. by the Territorial Marshals.
Each year, the event features a Victorian costume contest with categories for different ages and genders as well as for the best dressed couple. Those interested in entering can visit Bike About Bicycles between 5:30-8:00p.m. each night to check in with the judges.
Following the costume awards presentation is the festival’s nightcap – the Victorian Stroll and Street Dance. The stroll is the perfect opportunity for young and old to get together on the street and enjoy the old-fashioned entertainment. A caller will explain each dance, so community members of any experience level can take part.
The Tales from the Top will be back this year as well. It is a ticketed tour that takes guests through the upper floors of five downtown Claremore buildings. A short play will take place in each one, and guests may have an opportunity to poke around the 100-year-old buildings.
The tour begins at 6 p.m. and lasts about an hour. Tickets are $12 and are limited. They can be purchased beginning on November 2nd at the Claremore Main Street office, 419 W. Will Rogers Blvd.
For historic buffs, Claremore Main Street also offers a daytime Historic Walk through downtown on Saturday afternoon. The approximately three-quarter mile walk takes guests from the Will Rogers Hotel to the Belvidere Mansion while relaying aspects of Claremore’s history and telling stories that most Claremore residents don’t know.
Tickets for the Historic Walk are $8, are limited and will be on sale at the Main Street office November 2nd. The tour will be at 1 p.m. November 21st.
Dickens on the Boulevard is hosted by Claremore Main Street and sponsored by RCB Bank. The event is also presented by the Grand River Damn Authority, and the City of Claremore Power & Light.
For more information, visit downtownclaremore.org or call 918-341-5881.