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Having a jolly ol’ time

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Updated: January 9, 2014 6:33AM

Throngs of people made their way to the Dundee downtowns this weekend for the annual Dickens in Dundee festival.

In the past, festivities were largely held on the West Dundee side. But this year, East Dundee decided to play a larger role.

Longtime resident Daniel Duda was glad. He and his wife, Deena, and their kids, Isabella and Danny, have attended the event every year since they moved to East Dundee 11 years ago.

“We are excited that East Dundee has stepped back up to the plate,” he said. “One of the reasons we chose to move here is because of the community involvement and nostalgia. We were pretty bummed when the village cut back involvement from what seemed like every community event the past several years. Whoever is making the decisions and plans needs to be commended for their effort. We really missed the living windows. Dickens in Dundee has been our Christmas kickoff for the past 11 years now. Let the season begin.”

The downtowns on both sides of the Fox River had tree lighting ceremonies, carolers, living windows displays with people in costume representing Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and other holiday favorites. Saturday’s parade kicked off at 10 a.m., traveling from Main Street in West Dundee to River Street in East Dundee.

West Dundee’s activities also included a cookie walk, horse drawn sleigh rides, and the Festival of Trees, where community members voted for the best decorated Christmas trees with donations of loose change and dollars, among other events.

Kids were able to visit with Santa on both sides of the river, and new this year was a gingerbread house decorating contest.

Maddie Gillen, 9, of Elgin was one who submitted an entry.

“I make a gingerbread house every year but I haven’t always entered a contest,” she said.

To make her creation stand out, she went heavy with the mini marshmallows.

“My mom said everybody’s probably doing something with the floor around the house so I added marshmallows to look like snow and had the gingerbread men have a snow fight,” she said.

There was much oohing and ahhing by festival-goers about the living window displays in both downtowns.

T.R. Frye of Palatine played Scrooge in the window of In The Neighborhood Meet Market in East Dundee.

As for how he ended up with that role, “I was told by a wonderful friend of mine this would be perfect for me,” Frye said with a laugh.

“This is a lot of fun,” he said.

Morgan Eikre brought her daughter, Hannah, to meet Santa during the Dickens event.

“I think this is awesome,” she said of the festivities. “I’ve never seen the living windows before.”

East Dundee Trustee Dan Selep said his family makes the Dickens in Dundee festival a tradition each year.

“We really enjoy the carols and singing,” he said.

He is excited that East Dundee played a larger role this year.

“I think it’s great we’re doing more community events,” he said.

He said this is due to his fellow trustee, Kirstin Wood, who also sits on the village’s Community Events Commission, and Karen Blair, East Dundee’s new marketing director.

“They’re doing a great job of getting East Dundee more involved,” Selep said.

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