Dickens of a Christmas

Carolers entertain in front of the Christmas tree in the Hernando Courthouse Square during the recent "Dickens of a Christmas" event. A partnership between the business community and the City of Hernando helped provide a Victorian-era atmosphere to the downtown area for the holiday season.  

With the arrival of Thanksgiving Thursday and it being just weeks away from Christmas, DeSoto County communities are dressing themselves in their holiday finery.  

The county seat of Hernando this year has taken on the flair of a past time to help celebrate the holidays.

A partnership between the City of Hernando and the Hernando Main Street Chamber of Commerce has worked to offer a Victorian-era atmosphere in the Courthouse Square. That atmosphere was initiated for the “Dickens of a Christmas” themed Open House earlier in November and will continue through the holidays with a lighted tree in front of the Courthouse and special decorations adorning the Square’s street lights. 

The Courthouse Square tree will officially be lighted by Mayor Tom Ferguson during an event on Saturday evening, Nov. 30, that will also feature musical entertainment from the DeSoto Family Theatre.  

“We’re very pleased with it,” said Hernando Main Street Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sibonie Swatzyna. “We’re excited to be a part of it and have the relationship going with the City, so that we may have other events like this.”

“The city was incorporated during the Victorian era, the same time period that the legendary novelist Charles Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol,’" said Hernando Community Development Director Gia Matheny. “This is how we came to start a ‘Dickens of a Christmas.’ With the help of Entergy and Walmart we were awarded two grants for holiday lighting to kick-start our new event.  We also appreciate Whitfield Electric for working swiftly to get electricity on the historic poles in time for the holiday light display.”

DeSoto County Museum Curator Robert Long dressed in Victorian-period clothing during the “Dickens” event and hosted horse and carriage historic tours to tell tales about the Victorian era in Hernando.

Northwest Mississippi Community College provided actors in period clothing to mingle with visitors and the Northwest hotel and management team prepared a Christmas food demonstration for the public to sample.  DeSoto Family Theatre and musical group Stayin’ Alive were caroling around the Square and ended the day by singing Christmas songs at the foot of the beautifully lit Christmas tree.

There are 16 historic light poles on the Square and eight on the corners have wreaths. The business community in Hernando has expressed a desire to raise money for additional decorations next year and in the future.  

“The Dickens of a Christmas just enhanced our Open House," Swatzyna said. “It added a different flair about the Open House. Our plan is just to build on what we have.”

“Christmas is the time of year where people come together to bring the spirit of the holidays to life and we can say it was a true community partnership to make this happen,” added Matheny. 

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.