• Fri. Sep 23rd, 2022

The Christmas event received grants to develop and develop a mobile application | News

ByCindy J. Daddario

Mar 27, 2022

Hernando’s famous Dickens of a Christmas holiday event is over eight months away. Eight months away from guaranteed snow in the courtyard square, tea party, Victorian dancing, horse-drawn carriages and gingerbread house making. As details and planning are currently being developed, the event organizer recently received a financial boost to further develop the Yuletide business.

Gia Matheny, Director of Community Development for the Town of Hernando, has coordinated and planned the Christmas-themed event, with the help of volunteers and Hernando businesses, since 2019.

Matheny said the town of Hernando is within the hills territory of the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area (MHNHA). The MHNHA was designated by Congress in 2009 and promotes the “distinctive cultural landscape shaped in large part by the dynamic intersection of Appalachian and Delta cultures”. MHNHA also seeks to interpret and share the stories of the region’s cultural icons.

Matheny applied on behalf of the City of Hernando for two grants of $5,000 each, to fund Dickens One Christmas educational activities and for the development of a mobile application (app) focused on the event. The town of Hernando received the funds this week.

“DeSoto County is in the Mississippi Hills Heritage Area, which is the northern part of Mississippi,” Matheny said. “Through the Dickens of a Christmas, we educate the public a lot about our history and our culture here in the hills. It’s the allure of the event and the holiday spirit that brings everyone here and to participate in activities.

Dickens of a Christmas is named after Victorian author Charles Dickens, best known for his tale “A Christmas Carol”.

While enjoying the sights and engaging presentation of a historically themed vacation, Matheny said attendees learn about the history of the area while having fun.

“That’s the goal,” Matheny said. “We find that when you do it in a fun atmosphere, people learn more and you come away with a really positive experience.”

The event is centered around the historic court square in Hernando. It is also held in conjunction with the Hernando Main Street Chamber of Commerce Christmas Open House for Retailers.

Victorian-era themed experiences held during Dickens of a Christmas include a formal tea party, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, gingerbread house making, art and secret language fanning, demonstrations of business skills and dancing.

One grant will be applied to continue these activities, with part of the other grant being applied to the development of mobile tourism applications. Matheny said the developer of the technology is Nashville-based Aloompa.

“We did this because of the number of people coming,” Matheny explained. “We had so many people last year that people didn’t know where some of the activities were. They didn’t know who to ask. We believe that the application will be an opportunity for them to see what we offer, all the shops (for open doors) and restaurants. The goal is that they can click on something and it will direct them via GPS, drive or walk to that destination.

Matheny said the proposed app could be used year-round to promote the event, highlight historic sites and direct visitors there.

Matheny added that the whole weekend event would not happen without her community partners. The city-led event relies on sponsorships and is currently seeking interested businesses and organizations.

Last year, Principle Toyota, Mach 1 Window Tinting, Coffee Central, Trustmark Bank and Hernando Library were just a few community partners and volunteers who helped bring the event to life.

This year’s Dickens of a Christmas is currently being planned and will take place the weekend of November 11-12. Call Matheny at 662-449-9127 for more information.