Celebrate Charles Dickens’ 203rd Birthday in (and Near) Clark Park

Sunday, February 8, 2 Pm, Griffith Hall, east side of 43rd just north of Woodland, Free Admission

Dickens fans and neighbors of Clark Park are organizing this year’s fun, festive Charles Dickens Birthday Party. You’re cordially and merrily invited to join us! Sponsored by The Friends of Clark Park, we’re having an afternoon of drama and music near the site of Frank Elwell’s beautiful sculpture of Dickens and Little Nell.

photo (3) The indoor, on-stage portion of the festivities will be held in Griffith Hall of the University of the Sciences, 43rd and Kingsessing, across the street from the southern tip of Clark Park. Admission is free.

Actors Ceil Mann and Larry Beck, along with members of the Curio Theater Company, will perform scenes from The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. Young Sophie Pettit, accompanied by her father, the writer and local Dickens ambassador Edward G. Pettit, will enact a scene from The Old Curiosity Shop. We’ll also have a special performance inspired by the new benches recently installed at the statue. Several Dickens fans will read the quotations emblazoned on the benches and they’ll give us a taste of the scenes from which the quotes were “lifted.”

The dramatic program is followed by treats for all, Dickensian socializing, and a performance by the Kingsessing Morris Men, first place winners in the comic division at the 2012 Mummers Parade.

Finally, the Morris dancers will lead a procession to the statue where youngsters will decorate Dickens and Little Nell with wreaths and we’ll sing “Happy Birthday.”

West Philadelphians who have grown up, and grown older, in the Clark Park neighborhood have come to respect and admire the bronze statue of Dickens. Created in 1890 by renowned sculptor Frank Elwell, it was installed in Clark Park in 1901. For most of the time since then, it’s been the world’s only public statue of Dickens, due to the novelist’s request that no memorials or statues be erected in his honor. So, to recognize the statue’s special role in our neighborhood’s history, and to pay homage to a great writer, we throw a birthday party every year!

The program begins at 2 pm sharp and ends an hour and a half later. Do come and join us!


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