Glimpse at spirit of holiday’s past

That Fezziwig, he throws the best holiday parties.

The merry soul from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will play host to a festive bash with food, music and parlor games during the 31st Annual Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, scheduled for this weekend.

Fezziwig and his wife will join Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cratchit and Dickens himself at “Dinner With Dickens & Company” from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 8 at the American Philatelic Society Building — one of the many events and activities planned for Bellefonte’s traditional celebration.

Along with the Brian Belge Dickens Troupe actors, who hail from Lititz and will stroll the streets entertaining visitors throughout the weekend, the 2012 Victorian Christmas features more than 70 arts and craft vendors, carriage rides, puppet shows, free concerts, a gingerbread house contest, a Victorian high tea and Santa Claus on the Diamond.

“We try to stress we have something for everybody,” said Sally Houser, Victorian Christmas chairwoman.

At 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7, the celebration officially opens in the Bellefonte Elementary School auditorium with orchestral music, local choirs and hot chocolate afterward.

Then over the weekend, revelers can pick up holiday gifts from the artists and vendors at the elementary school, middle school and Centre County YMCA’s Bellefonte branch. One middle school artist will carve wooden Santas before shoppers’ eyes.

Under the auspices of the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association, the festival ushers in the holiday season every December with crowds flocking to Bellefonte’s historic central downtown. This year the extravaganza adds the Centre County United Way’s Festival of Trees fundraiser, which moved from Penn State’s Snider Agricultural Arena to the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in Pleasant Gap.

Trees decorated by local businesses and organizations will fill the school’s auditorium. Free shuttle buses will run from Bellefonte Area High School on Bishop Street and the Diamond downtown.

The high tea also moves to a new location, at the Reynolds Mansion at 101 W. Linn St. Seating is limited for the popular event, so reservations are recommended for the three teas. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for youth, and can be purchased at the Cool Beans Coffee and Tea and Victorian Rose boutique.

Also new, Santa will have a fancy abode for his customary spot, thanks to industrious CPI students.

“They’re doing a fantastic job building the house,” Houser said. “It’s just going to be absolutely beautiful.”

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