Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Dickens Downtown brings holiday spirit to Northport


For the eighth year in a row, Mary Cesar, owner of Northport’s Mary’s Cakes and Pastries, is taking twenty pans of bread pudding out of her ovens and serving 4,000 people.

Cesar and her staff are preparing for the annual Dickens Downtown, a community event which, in its 23rd year, has become a part of local tradition as much as City Café.

“It’s an opportunity for Northport to show off what Northport is – a collection of small shops and businesses,” Cesar said. “It gets everyone in the [Christmas] mood. Unless someone’s an absolute humbug, it really just gives you a good feeling.”

Like other Northport businesses, Mary’s Cakes and Pastries takes an active part in the celebration, handing out portions of warm bread pudding.

Another local business that has a hand in creating Dickens Downtown is the Southern Letterpress, owned by Jessica Peterson, which will host an open house for the event. The Southern Letterpress will be doing print demonstrations from 6-8 p.m.

The art demos, which include blacksmithing, bagpipers, live bands and artificial snow, contribute to the Christmas tradition the event has built up over the years.

“[Dickens Downtown] is definitely a good kickoff to the rest of the season – it’s a great way to get warmed up,” Peterson said. “I appreciate seeing the streets filled with people, and being a Yankee, I appreciate seeing the snow. It provides a cultural opportunity to get out and look at art and appreciate music and history while providing support for Tuscaloosa and Northport.”

Peterson said the event is more of a celebration of Christmas than another excuse for holiday shopping.

“It’s really important to have the holiday season to be about community and humanity, not about shopping and consumerism,” Peterson said. “When you turn off the TV and the Internet and have to talk to people, that’s a really good thing. Those things are the essence of Christmas season.”

For the event, many participants choose to dress in classic Victorian costumes. Cesar has a long green skirt, cap and a cape set aside for the occasion. Cesar said she encourages everyone planning to attend to arrive ahead of time, even with the upcoming threat of rain.

“Get an umbrella and come out early, rain or shine. Every single shop in Northport is open,” Cesar said.

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