Clark Park’s bronze statue of Charles Dickens, crafted by Frank Elwell in the late nineteenth century, is one of Philadelphia’s public art treasures. For many, the Dickens corner of Clark Park is a special place, something of a sanctuary. In his will, Dickens declared that he wanted no monuments made in his memory–and for more than a century, the magnificent statue at 43rd and Chester was in fact the only sculpted likeness of him in the world. In honor of Charles Dickens’s timeless writing and his special connection to our neighborhood, the Friends of Clark Park holds annual birthday parties.
At 2pm sharp on Sunday, February 5th in Griffith Hall (43rd and Kingsessing) all are invited to this year’s gathering to commemorate the 200th birthday. It promises to be our biggest and best party in many years. Of course there will be birthday cake for Dickens and a procession to the statue to sing Happy Birthday–but the centerpiece of the party is Dickens himself. Actors and musicians will recreate Dickens’s world for us with songs and excerpts from his novels. Presenters will include British folksinger and actor David Jones, Curio Theatre’s Jared Reed and Paul Kuhn, and local favorites Frank Chance and Ceil Mann. Readings this year will feature A Christmas Carol, Pickwick Papers, and David Copperfield. We are also very happy to welcome the Kingsessing Morris Men dancers, who will perform Morris dancing during the reception. Many behind-the-scenes volunteers are working to make this year’s Charles Dickens Birthday Party a success, but special mention is due to the artistic contributions of David Comberg’s Advanced Design class at Penn for creating Dickensian posters and other promotional materials. Their work can be seen throughout the neighborhood. Their specially designed napkins can be picked up at the Green Line Cafe, Local 44, and Milk & Honey Market.