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Amidst temperatures in the high 80s, visitors to this year's Dickens Festival were treated to family-oriented activities in contrast to Riverside's other more “illustrious” festival.

The festival area was just 2 city blocks stretching east-west on Mission Inn Ave from Lime to Orange Streets and northwards one block to 9th. Clearly this festival targeted families with children.Even SuperBowl Sunday didn't dissuade visitors.

jugglerOn a stage by the downtown fire station, red-haired juggler Christopher “Rusty” Yates kept visitors in knots mixing comedy with deft juggling. When he was not picking on the audience, his self-effacing sense of humor coupled with his accent from Down Under brought smiles and lots of laughter.Even Riverside's best who were on foot patrol didn't escape a ribbing!

In the audience participation portion of his act, Rusty juggled 3 balls while kneeling behind a youngster.To give the illusion that this youngster was doing the juggling, Rusty slipped his hands under the arms of his young helper.The Kiwi(native of New Zealand) ended his act by juggling 3 flaming torches.

Every so often the sound of gunfire made heads turn when the Gordon's Highlanders Scottish Regiment staged a battle.

Characters from Charles Dicken's world like Ebenezzer Scrooge, Mr.Pickwick, Queen Victoria and Her Royal Court, Fagin, Tiny Tim, Miss Havisham, just to name a few, strolled along Mission Inn Ave entertaining everyone with their quaint twangs and friendly banter.

Elsewhere on the street, two men on their Penny Farthing bicycles waved to the crowd from their high perches while Lorna “Crystal” Tucker pampered her black and white Chihuahua.

Los Californios, a musical troupe featuring a violin, guitar and accordian, played Early California tunes while dancers from Folklorico Mexicano Del Sur de California swayed enthusiastically in a tent in front of the downtown library.

To find out more about this annual event, visit the Dickens Festival official website.

Here's a sampling of what was seen and heard at this year's Riverside Dickens Festival.

Ebenezzer Scrooge
chihuahua on a shoulder dressed up couple cowboy with lady folklorico dancers gal with boyfriend
juggler with fire juggler with fire2 ladies in victorian costume portrait of Victorian era girl Scottish Regiment
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All images,story and videos © Peter Phun 2007.To learn more about Peter