Despite the wet conditions, downtown and Lower Town Paducah transformed into a scene out of a Charles Dickens novel for the sixth annual Dickens of a Christmas Small Business Saturday event.

With the Paducah Tilghman High School a cappella group, Prime Rib, singing carols in the background, Travis Hensel and his three children -- Jack, Nora and Jude -- made s'mores on the corner of Broadway and North Second Street.

"We come to Dickens annually," Hensel said. "The rain did not faze us out, the kids have met Santa, ridden the Jolly Trolley, got hot chocolate and made s'mores."

Nora said her favorite thus far was riding the Jolly Trolley, while Jack was all about his s'mores.

Katie Axt, Paducah Main Street director, traded in her business attire for a red robe and holly crown Saturday, as she greeted patrons strolling the streets. "We are expecting a great crowd today," she said.

"Our community loves Small Business Saturday. We love being able to support our local business and our cultural institutions."

Former Paducah resident Kristina Mulhall, of Chicago, did not do any Black Friday shopping but braved the weather Saturday to find some deals. She said there was nothing particular she was looking for Friday and did not feel like dealing with the crowds and the hustle and bustle.

"But I love Small Business Saturday, I love coming down here and listening to the carolers, the hot chocolate, and I have a few favorite boutiques I like stopping in. It has become a family tradition," she said.

Vona Adams, Claudia Meeks and Lyndsey Birdsong were three carolers posted outside Hooper's Outdoor Center, entertaining those walking by on Broadway. All three said they were veteran Dickens carolers and look forward to the event each year.

Meeks, in her sixth year as a caroler, said, "This is a way I can give back to my community and a way I can be involved and right in the middle of everything.

"I enjoy singing. I sing at church and sing anywhere I can, so this is a way for me to do something I love, with the community I love to do it in," she said.

Simply B Gifts started early, offering a Black Friday deal, but saw a packed house Saturday for the annual Dickens of a Christmas. Leslie Weber, one of the storeowners, welcomed shoppers dressed in Dickens attire with a sense of holiday spirit in the air.

"Today (Small Business Saturday) is crucial to our store. We look forward to this every year, and it kicks off our holiday season," she said.

Organized by Paducah Main Street, Dickens of a Christmas exists to build a sense of community and to support small businesses.

"This is our biggest shopping day of the year, and our retailers count on this day," Axt said.

The event ended Saturday with the annual Carson Center tree lighting ceremony.

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