Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987 Page: 10
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Dressing in Victorian costume entitles visitors to free admission
during the annual Dickens on the Strand. Costumed men, women and
children compete for exciting prizes in the pre-holiday costume
steam locomotive, making regular trips from "Chelsea
Station," located at 25th and Strand.
If it seems as if everyone in Galveston has gotten into
the Dickens spirit, they have! For many visitors, the
experience will begin at their hotel where staff wear
Victorian costumes and sponsor their own costume contests.
For others, it may be at the 140-year-old Episcopal
Church, celebrating with a Dickens Organ Concert and
encouraging worshipers to wear costumes to church if they
are volunteering later that day. The spirit of Dickens
permeates the island.
Finally, for one lucky person, Dickens on Galveston
Island is the gateway to the British Isle home of Charles
Dickens. At a drawing held on the final evening of the
event, a winner of a trip for two to London will be
announced. The round-trip airfare to London is courtesy of
American Airlines. The fortunate pair will be guests of
the elegant Lowndes Thistle Hotel in the heart of London.
BritRail treats the couple to unlimited travel all over
England, Scotland and Wales on the renowned British
railroad system. Charles Dickens himself, in wax, will
greet the visitors when they take a complimentary tour of
the famed Madame Tussaud's Wax Exhibition on Baker
Street and the Royalty and Empire exhibit at Windsor.
While fun, food and prizes are delightful outcomes of
Dickens on The Strand, perhaps even more importantly,
historic preservation is spotlighted and funded through
this event. Strand merchants profit from the festival and, in
turn, are able to maintain their restored 19th century
buildings. The city receives sales tax from the event
(previous surveys show the average Dickens visitor spends
$24), and a portion of the hotel occupancy tax generated
by overnight visitors goes to the arts and historic preservation
groups in Galveston. Finally, Dickens On The
Strand is the major fund raiser of Galveston Historical
Foundation. According to Event Director for GHF, Ann
Anderson, Dickens On The Stand has contributed tremendously
to the ability of the organization to save and restore
historically significant structures in Galveston. "The popularity
of Dickens as a major Texas festival and the willingness
of corporate sponsors and thousands of volunteers to
support this event has helped us generate funds for GHF's
historic preservation work. With only four full-time staff
members to plan and produce Dickens on The Strand and
other major events, we are absolutely dependent upon our
volunteers," said Anderson. The core Dickens committee
begins its weekly meetings in June each year and works
through the evaluation following the event. This year a
comprehensive visitor survey will be undertaken in order
to maintain the high quality of the festival, as well as to
determine the degree of success of marketing strategies.
Improving the quality and reaching an ever-broadening
audience are constant goals of the Dickens committee and
Festival hours are 10a.m. to 10p.m. Saturday, December
5, and 10a.m. to 8p.m. Sunday, December 6. Advance
tickets may be purchased until December 4 for $4 for
adults and $1 for senior citizens (over 60) and children.
Gate prices are $5 for adults and $2 for senior citizens and
children. Children under six are admitted free. Everyone
in Victorian costume is admitted free. Tickets may be
purchased through Galveston Historical Foundation, 2016
Strand, Galveston, Texas 77550 or by calling (409) 7657834.
The Historical Foundation will also assist with information
on accommodations. Galveston lodging options
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987, periodical, Autumn 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45439/m1/10/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.