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On a Chilly Night in Port Jefferson, Dickens Fest Warms the Heart

17th Annual Charles Dickens Festival began on Friday night.

There was a chill in the air on Friday night as the bells tolled the hour at the First Presbyterian Church and suddenly chimney sweeps bounded across the lawn to enjoy the sounds of a caroling choir along with aristocrats in top hats.

Street urchins crawled out of the gutter to mingle with proper ladies in Victorian dress. The mayor of London arrived to take the ceremonial key from the mayor of Port Jefferson, turning the village over to a cast of Dickensian characters singling the start of another Charles Dickens Festival.

While waiting for the mayor to hand over the keys to the village, a swelling crowd was entertained by a choir filled with characters and poetry readings with wintery themes by local children. Father Christmas bent to ask little ones if they were good this year and riff raff proclaimed it a good night of meriment.

Jeffrey Sanzel, artistic director for Theatre Three, closed out the ceremonies with his traditonal oration of the end of A Christmas Carol. Sanzel plays Scrooge in the theater's production of the play based on Dickens' book.

Tourists filled the streets for the first night of the weekend-long festival after the opening ceremony on Main Street, while even some local residents were caught wearing the garb of 19th century London.

Click here for a full schedule of events at the 17th Annual Charles Dickens Festival.

Some business owners said that opening night is not usually as well attended as the rest of the festival. They expected the crowds to come to the village for the rest of the weekend as long as the weather holds up.

According to the National Weather Service, on Saturday there is a chance of rain or drizzle with temperatures reaching into the mid-40s. On Sunday the high is predicted to be near 55 degrees and there is a chance of showers sometime before midnight. Some might say it's perfect London weather.

Did you attend the opening of the festival on Friday night and take pictures? Sign in to Patch and upload them here.

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