Celebrating Christmas, in the Spirit of Dickens

Gloria Lau

The 32nd Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair offers visitors a chance to celebrate the holidays in a recreation of and the Victorian Era of 1812 to 1860.

“Here, it’s a whole different world where there is peace and love,” said Dog Man, 57. “And when you walk outside there is rain, hatred and grey. Here, it’s just ‘Happy Christmas’ ‘Happy Christmas.’”

Man, whose name was bestowed upon him by hippies, is a proud tea maker. He sat on a bench outside his tea shop to pass out free orange spice English tea.

The festival opened the weekend of Nov. 27 and will continue every weekend until Dec. 19 from 11am–7pm. The celebration flourishes at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

There are performances on six stages and in the street and there are cheerful and vibrant characters from Dickens’ London.

The festival includes songs and dances in Fezziwig’s Warehouse, music hall performers in Mad Sal’s Dockside Alehouse, chimney sweeps, Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and evil genius Fagin.

For children, there are Punch and Judy puppet shows, Victorian fairies, Father Christmas, interactive theatrical performances, games, holiday activities and Victorian arts and crafts.

Entertaining children and dressed as Little Bo Peep, 26-year-old Alicia Kat Dillman of Hayward, speaks out about the intricacy of preparing for this festival.

Dillman explained how it took three weeks to prepare. They had rehearsals on weekends at Oceana High School in Pacifica this year.

“I like how family oriented this event is,” said Dillman. “Thousands of actors come together and we all work together.”

Dillman is in two shows with Mother Goose and the small children. She comes on the show looking for her sheep, who are portrayed by the children.

Gourmet chefs provided food from all over the world, including fish and chips, English bangers, Greek delicacies, French onion soup and enticing desserts. There were five authentic pubs that offered craft ales from local breweries.

There were shops from London that had Victorian reproductions of fine art, romantic clothing, glittering pottery and jewelry.

Samiah Hinton, 40, held a Victorian clothing booth of her designs at the fair, and Brian Hinton, 40, talked about his wife’s creations.

“She’s been designing for 12 years,” said Brian. “She does all the patterns, all the sewing and she brings her seamstresses in and she trains.”

Brian Hinton, who works as a tech support manager at the University of Southern California supports his wife’s hobby, as it’s her full time job. Samiah Hinton makes Victorian clothing costumes for young and old.

Some men, as Brian pointed out, bought Victorian coats to wear over jeans for a semi-dressy casual outing at the clubs or restaurants.