Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

What is a volunteer? Although this isn’t a Webster’s Dictionary definition, Margaret Mead seemed to understand the role of volunteers when she said:

Never doubt that a small group of thankful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

In the small town of Cambridge, Ohio, a group of volunteers may not have changed the world, but definitely have changed the face of Cambridge during the months of November and December. Over 200 volunteers work almost year round to make Dickens Victorian Village a big success.  As the director would say, “It takes a village to run things.”

After the Restoration Team worked at Dickens Universal all summer long to make and repair heads and bodies, fix or replace clothing, and even build whole new scenes, finally the day arrived to move them to Wheeling Avenue for Dickens Victorian Village.  This is no easy task to move 186 mannequins. Some of them were moved on an old trolley that was given to the village, while others were hauled on trailers.

Wonderful volunteers lined up inside Dickens Universal while mannequins were loaded onto the trailers behind their trucks and vans.  Usually this is done on the weekend, but due to Hurricane Sandy this year, it was delayed. So men appeared after work to load their trailers and take them to the appropriate spots in downtown Cambridge. Keeping them in order wasn’t a big problem as they are stored in order at Dickens Universal.  It’s a long warehouse and there’s enough room to make it appear like a walk down Wheeling Avenue – just not as much sidewalk in between!

Once downtown, finishing touches had to be made. Skirts were attached around all the scenes, most containing more than one mannequin. Then everything needed to be securely attached as a caution from further wind storms. Long metal rods were placed beside some mannequins to hold them in place.

But when it is all finished, the volunteers have a sense of pride in their long year of hard work to make downtown Cambridge have a festive air.  Even though the hurricane had made its way north, rain still fell for the entire time of mannequin invasion.  One of the new scenes, The Blacksmith, was getting its first taste of being out in the weather.

Take a walk downtown to enjoy a look at days of old. Each scene has a descriptive plaque telling a little history of that particular scene. For the volunteers, work doesn’t stop here.  During the Dickens Victorian Village season from Nov. 2 – Jan. 5, the restoration team checks on mannequins daily repairing costumes, reattaching loose items, or sometimes even changing costumes completely.  These people really care about appearances and are very particular about each scene. Yet they have lots of fun working together! As Tiny Tim might say: “God bless them every one.”

Dickens Victorian Village is open in downtown Cambridge, Ohio from Nov. 2 to Jan. 5. Cambridge is easily located as it is at the crossroads of I-70 and I-77 in beautiful Southeastern Ohio.  Perhaps you will get a chance to visit this holiday season and feel the Magic of Dickens in the air.

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