SKANEATELES — It was the best of times in the village of Skaneateles Friday as Charles Dickens helped celebrate the start of the holiday season. 

The 19th century writer paraded through the streets of Skaneateles Friday afternoon for the 24th annual Dickens Christmas. Set in 1842 England, the World's Smallest Christmas Parade introduced many of the key characters from Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol," including the Fezziwigs, the Cratchits and Ebenezer Scrooge. 

Following a short parade along Fennell, Jordan and Genesee streets in the village, the cast of characters gathered on the steps of the Hannum House where Queen Victoria asked Dickens to write a Christmas story. There, in front of dozens of 21st century onlookers, Dickens smiled and said yes. 

Rebekah Prasad and her husband, Tosh, brought their three children from Rochester for the festival. Prasad said it was the family's first time seeing Dickens Christmas. 

"We're here to see the little parade and walk around town and enjoy the Christmas events," she said, her 3-year-old son resting on Tosh Prasad's shoulders in the crowd. 

Similarly, the Lopes family also traveled from out of town for the festivities. Originally from Liverpool, Caite Lopes was visiting the village with her husband, Peter, their four children and her parents. 

"It's a great magical way to kick off the Christmas season," Lopes said. "It's our favorite holiday ... and the characters are wonderful." 

Lopes' daughters, Sarah, 7, and Julia, 5, were all smiles following the parade. Sarah had one word to describe her first Dickens Christmas: "Amazing."

After the parade, Dickens and the rest of the Christmas Carol crew took to the streets, visiting several local restaurants and businesses and interacting with passersby. Scrooge could be heard shouting "Bah, Humbug" while carolers sang and characters performed at the Clift Park gazebo. 

But over the next few weeks, Scrooge's "humbugs" should soften as Dickens Christmas continues in the village. The festivities run every Saturday and Sunday through Christmas Eve. 

"I wouldn't miss anything in Skaneateles village," said Kimberly Kasper, who retired to the area this spring. "It's a wonderful way to start the Christmas holiday season. ... Everybody should come to Dickens Christmas." 

Staff writer Megan Blarr can be reached at (315) 282-2282 or megan.blarr@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @CitizenBlarr. 

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Crime and Courts Reporter