Holiday festival planned for Strand

October 29, 2008 3:53:04 PM PDT
Hurricane Ike hit a little more than six weeks ago. That's not nearly enough time for businesses on the Strand in Galveston to get up and running again. ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim

Despite the slow recovery process, the city is gearing up for an annual holiday tradition -- one that will help bring the Strand back to life, at least for a little while.

A walk along the Strand reveals just how much repair is needed. Tourists still come around, but there's nowhere for them to spend their money.

Tourist Elaine Vauthier said, "They really took some bumps, that's for sure, but these old Strand buildings are wonderful."

It's that attraction organizers want to keep alive. The recovery has been dramatic, the sidewalks are completely clear of storm debris, but the vast majority of businesses remain closed. The historic buildings are gutted and are being completely renovated. Yet, despite the devastation, the annual Dickens on the Strand event will be held in December as planned.

Leslie Sommer with the Historic Downtown Galveston Partnership explained, "The Dickens on the Strand is a deep part of our community here. It's been held for over 30 years and it's really a part of way of life here. It gives our community a chance, as much as anyone else, to come together and start the healing process after the hurricane."

In years past, Dickens on the Strand has been a two-day event celebrating the Christmas season with a Victorian theme. This year, vendors will be brought in to line the Strand and local businesses will be allowed to set up booths, free of charge.

Rudy and Paco's is one of downtown's most popular restaurants. They will not be open in time for Dickens on the Strand. A ten foot tidal surge completely flooded the building. For many, Dickens is seen as a local morale booster, a sign that Galveston life is moving forward.

Restaurant owner Paco Vargas said, "We want to tell the people, we're not dead yet. Galveston will be back. So we need you to come back and visit us and enjoy our hospitality."

If you want more information about the Dickens on the Strand events, we have a full listing.

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