Make a Day of It: A Charles Dickens Christmas presented by Enlightened Theatrics (December 1-23, 2017)

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. But we also love the Pacific Northwest and all that it has to offer. Running is a part of us, but it does not fully define us. In our new “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some great local non-running events and highlight where to run and how to make the most of your experience!

The next installment of this series is the Enlightened Theatrics’ performance of A Charles Dickens Christmas!

First the running:

The Historic Grand Theater is right in downtown Salem, a growing and not-nearly-as-boring area as it has historically been labeled. Parking is plentiful and there are a solid number of short runs that can be started from anywhere in the downtown corridor. I will highlight my recommendations from last year:

  • Riverfront Park: This is probably the most accessible and easiest way to get in a few miles. If you are looking for more than a few, you may need to complete a few loops, but that’s not all bad. I would recommend starting near the Salem Carousel and heading on the trails that circle the park. You will be able to see the almost-finished bridge (which will eventually connect to Minto Brown Park – see below) and the Sternwheeler parked on the Willamette. Take the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge over the river into West Salem and add some miles by hitting some road and paved trails in Wallace Marine Park.

  • Bush Park: This park is just a few blocks south of the downtown area and is home to Willamette University’s baseball and football stadiums. The bark trails that surround this park can be a bit soggy in the winter, but are a staple for urban trail running here in town. Again, the park is not huge, but there are plenty of options to circle and use different paved and bark trails to increase mileage. Willamette’s Cross Country team (and many area high schools) use these trails for meets. And Willamette’s own running pride-and-joy Nick Symmonds undoubtedly got in some miles on these trails as well.

  • Minto Brown Park: Minto Brown is the “must-run” area in Salem. This giant park (which now connects with Riverfront Park via a new bridge) has 20 miles of paved, dirt, and gravel trails. You can run with beautiful views of the Willamette River, under tree-lined canopies, and near waterfowl sanctuaries. This is my favorite place to run in Salem, for the sheer ability to put in miles and have quiet scenery the whole time. I wouldn’t necessarily run here when it’s dark (the isolation of the location makes it not the best idea), but it’s a great spot during the daylight hours.

If you are looking to make a complete day of it, I would suggest stopping in at our growing number of really good restaurants. Some new downtown eats are Rafns’, Ritter’s, Archive Coffee & Bar, Bo & Vine, The Kitchen at Court Street, or Paradiso – the last 2 of which are in the Grand Theater building and title sponsors of Enlightened Theatrics.

Now to the details to the experience itself:

Salem is lucky to have a few really great and historical theaters in town. The Elsinore Theater probably gets the most “pub” given its history and size. The Grand Theater is a quarter century older has a more “checkered” history, with many non-theatrical purposes (it was a hotel and bus terminal at various times). But with Salem’s slow rise to becoming more modern and actually a destination to seek out, restaurants, hops, and new businesses continue to bring bright spots to the city. The Grand Theater had a revitalization a few years ago, and it is a great home for Enlightened Theatrics, Salem’s “Broadway to Salem” musical theater company.

Over the next few weeks, they will be putting on A Charles Dickens Christmas that is described as:

A Charles Dickens Christmas is a highly original take on A Christmas Carol that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the holiday classic.

Charles Dickens attempts to provide his publisher with a Christmas story that he promised to write but keeps coming up short. With the aid of his artistic muse, Dickens faces – and comes to terms with – his own troubled youth, learning the true meaning of Christmas and finding the inspiration for his immortal holiday classic.

This humorous and sentimental show is pure family entertainment. Each character in this small cast plays a large part in telling the alternate story of Charles Dickens. A Charles Dickens Christmas’ rich musical score is sure to put the holiday cheer into every member of the audience.

I can attest from my attendance at Enlightened Theatrics’ holiday play last year (the mesmerizing Plaid Tidings – which I saw numerous times), that they know how to put on a great show. I attended last night’s preview performance with my oldest daughter and had a wonderful time. There is beer, wine, and simple snacks in the lobby, and the play itself is equally as sweet. The cast is great and the unique story is fun for all ages. It’s pretty quick (just over an hour with no intermission), so you should have no issue getting home at a reasonable hour no matter where you call home in the valley. There is lots of space within the theater itself and I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house. Come down to Salem and take in a day of running and theater this holiday season!

2017 Event Dates:

  • December 1 – 23 (Wednesdays – Sundays)


  • Wednesday – Saturday at 730pm
  • Sunday at 230pm

Cost: Purchase tickets here:

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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