Join in the festivities and help Jim Thorpe celebrate the 200th birthday of novelist Charles Dickens.

Slightly missing his actual birth date of February 7, Jim Thorpe's Olde Time Christmas Festival committee is more than making it up by celebrating Mr. Dickens' Bicentennial on Saturday, July 21.

The celebration for Dickens, the first global celebrity author and chronicler of a world of urban inequality that looks a lot like the one we live in today, begins at 10 a.m. in front of the Jim Thorpe train station at Josiah White Park with a two-hour concert by the Bach and Handel Chorale. At the gazebo in the park, the chorale will present a variety of Baroque pieces selected by Maestro Randall Perry.

Visitors to the event are invited to dress in Victorian clothing, and in particular, in the type of clothing worn by a character in a Dickens novel. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes.

While at the gazebo, you can join the Mug Walk. Every mug comes with a gift certificate for a Scrooge Dollar that you can redeem in December during Olde Time Christmas.

Just purchase a mug, and when you visit many of the shops in the historic district, you will be rewarded with refreshments, and/or discounts. Included in the Mug Walk are Swartz prints, Harry Packer Mansion, Sound Check, Pepperjack's, Rainbow's End, Antonio's, Mulligan's, Scentimental Journey, Crave, Grammie Bea's, Naturally Yours, Maggie's Sweet Shop, Mauch Chunk Museum, Opera Square Giftque, Chatelaine and more. The mugs are available at the gazebo from 10 AM until noon. The Mug Walk runs from 11 AM to 5 PM.

At 1 p.m., Jack Gunsser reenacts Charles Dickens' visit to Mauch Chunk at the Dimmick Memorial Library. He will talk about the life of Charles Dickens, his novels, and his visit to the burning mine in Summit Hill.

As a boy, Dickens' parents was so poor that they were sent to debtor's prison, and 12-year-old Charles spent a year working 10-hour days at a factory for 6 shillings a week. He slept on straw, was ragged and dirty most of that year.

He wrote about his own childhood, but was too ashamed to reveal that this is where he gathered the material for his stories.

The public identified with his mistrust of the wealthy and compassion for the poor, and during his lifetime, Dickens became a major celebrity.

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