MAPLEWOOD, NJ -- HomeGrown rings in its first holiday episode by paying a visit to Maplewood’s annual Dickens Village, a community celebration and tradition that takes place throughout the month of December. 

Each December for over 60 years, Ricalton Square in downtown Maplewood transforms into a replica of a London village from the time of Charles Dickens. Complete with miniature houses decorated in period decor, Dickens Village also hosts events like visits from Santa, Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah lightings, a petting zoo, music, wagon rides, and more. 

“It’s such a great idea,” said John James, President of the Maplewood Village Alliance. “This is a really great, walkable town,” he continued, “and it’s just so nice to have this once a year.” 

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HomeGrown host Stephanie Willoughby spoke with the two directors of the Dickens Village, Ellen Davenport and Rosetta Weiser, who have spearheaded this project for over a decade. “When Santa gets here, you see the children--their eyes get so big,” said Weiser, “and that’s what makes the 12 months of working all worth it,” she said. “There are so many people who come to us and say: I came here as a child, and now I’m bringing my family here,” Weiser continued. “That’s magic.” 

“It’s just a great feeling,” said Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca. “It’s sort of the human part of being an elected official. We do a lot of stuff, we go to a lot of meetings, we have to make some really difficult decisions, but this is the fun stuff,” he said. “It’s really become a major part of the holiday spirit here in Maplewood.” 

“As a business owner, Dickens Village is just a charming addition to our town and another draw for people who come a little farther afield,” said Julie Pauly, Owner of Able Baker in Maplewood Village. “Everybody makes the trip down for this.” 

“It is indeed a wonderful life,” said Willoughby, “and the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Maplewood, New Jersey.” 

Maplewood’s Dickens Village is open for visitors now through the end of the month. For more information about the Maplewood Dickens Village and to see a schedule of upcoming events, visit: http://maplewoodvillagenj.com/events/dickens-village.