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Celebrating 20 Years of Dickens on the Square

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Rich Egger
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The annual Christmas event in downtown Macomb is designed to evoke the look and feel of Victorian England.

That was especially true this year thanks to the damp, chilly, and foggy weather that enveloped the courthouse square Friday night and remained for much of the day on Saturday.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of Dickens on the Square.  David Quesal of Macomb has taken part in 11 of them.

“I think it is a major contributor to really kick-starting the Christmas spirit in the community,” said Quesal, who entertained on the square with his jester puppet that he said is “…animated and expressive. He makes the kids laugh.”

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Credit Rich Egger
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David Quesal (right) of Macomb does puppet shows for birthday parties and other special events. He thinks Dickens on the Square is "a great thing."

Quesal was one of a number of people who dressed in replicas of Victorian-era clothing.

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Credit Rich Egger
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Some of the people who helped make Dickens on the Square look like a Victorian-age celebration.

Others chose their worst wardrobe selections, hoping to win the first Ugly Sweater Extravaganza hosted by TJR Designs and Kiss Me Kate Studios.

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Credit Rich Egger
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Dan Schmalshof (right) with Tim Rice of TJR Designs. Schmalshof won the Ugly Sweater contest. The judges credited Schmalshof for wearing a cheesy-looking women’s sweater that’s too small for him.

Some businesses hosted special events.  The Kozmic Game Emporium gave away prizes while hosting “Christmas Bingo” Saturday afternoon.  “It’s bingo but with Christmas themes.  So instead of ‘B-12’ it’ll be ‘B-Holly’ or ‘G-Eggnog,’” store owner Adam Kozlowski said with a laugh.

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Adam Kozlowski owns The Kozmic Game Emporium, which features games and puzzles for people of all ages.

Douglas Menke of Roseville has portrayed Father Christmas all 20 years of Dickens on the Square.  “There are some people who I interacted with in their early years as children who now I’m interacting with them as parents and they’re bringing their children.  So we’re into multi-generational Dickens on the Square participants.”

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Douglas Menke as Father Christmas. "The character I'm portraying is basically the United Kingdom's version of Santa Claus," Meinke said. "The character has also been represented in certain tellings of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' as the Ghost of Christmas Present."

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Visiting Santa - it's almost like a dream.

43 decorated Christmas trees were featured in the 9th annual Festival of Trees.  They included a couple superhero-themed trees and an upside down tree. The event hosted by the McDonough District Hospital Foundation was held at the West Central Illinois Arts Center.  "All funds raised go to emergency services this year," said Vicky Wallen of the Foundation.

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Credit Rich Egger
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Ukelele Macomb performed during the Festival of Trees.
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The Victorian smartphone was occasionally seen during Dickens on the Square.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.