Heritage Christian Church's popular Dickens Village will be on hiatus this year, though Heritage will still be hosting events to benefit Joseph Sam's School and special needs children.
Lead Pastor Doug Fultz says Fayette County inspectors had cited a few County code requirements that would need to be satisfied for Dickens Village to operate, and there simply wasn't enough time between that inspection and opening night to do things right.
"It really happened so close to the event, and the changes we were going to have to make were to such an extent that we didn't
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feel like we'd be able to present Dickens Village in a way that would be satisfactory. So we just felt like it would be best for us to just postpone this year, get those issues resolved, and come back in a big way next year."
Fultz was proud of the success of Dickens Village, which celebrated its tenth year last year and, according to counts, drew around 9,000 people over two weekends. The whole concept is inspired by Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," and in that spirit the church will host "Tiny Tim's Celebration of Giving," benefiting the Joseph Sams School and New Life Children's Home in Port Au Prince, Haiti. That will be December 7th starting at 7:00 p.m., presented by popular Christian Group Big Daddy Weave and The JoyFM. There will also be a silent auction for various Christmas themed items.
Beginning this Friday, Nov. 30, Santa is coming to Heritage to give a chance for special needs children and their families to get photos with Santa as well as Dickens themed photos. Santa will arrive at 5:30 p.m. and stay until 8, or until every child has had their time with him. He'll be back Saturday morning from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Families are encouraged to bring their kids before Santa's arrival to witness his grand entrance.
Fultz says this offers an alternative to parents with special needs children for getting photos with santa.
"We're trying to get to know the special needs facilities in the area, and one thing we've heard was that going to the mall was a little bit of over stimulation so we thought we could do this in a more quiet environment for them and make things easier for the parents."
Fultz says the hope is to "really raise a lot of awareness about how challenging it is to raise a child with those kind of special needs. A lot of times those families can be the invisible families and we were glad to begin to reach out to them."
That outreach has included a newly formed bond with New Life Children's Home in Haiti. Fultz says the church has taken seven or eight mission trips to visit the facility, with over 150 people participating so far. That facility in Port Au Prince helps children with special needs.
As for the Dickens Village, Fultz says next year should be better than ever.
"We're looking forward to coming back next year and really having a great Dickens Village, I know a lot of people will miss it. But we respect what the codes people have to do. It's their job and they're looking out for everyone's best interest and we want to keep everything above board and do things right."