(KRON) – The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is back in Daly City, in a mobile format this year, and while it’s supposed to bring joy during the holiday season, former cast members say that joy comes at the expense of pain.
The 51-year-old holiday tradition is now facing backlash and a boycott after allegations of sexual harassment and a history of racism.
More the 200 cast members and thousands of attendees have vouched not to return to the fair this year, and an online petition has gained more than 3,000 signatures.
Former cast members allege that issues of racism and inappropriate sexual behavior have been swept under the rug for years.
Leandra Darden says it was an unsafe work environment behind the curtains.
Darden is also the former vice president of the Londoners of the African Diaspora, an advocacy group of Black cast members at the Dickens Fair.
Darden didn’t return to the fair this year, along with 200 other cast members, and thousands of attendees, according to an online petition calling for a boycott.
Darden says there’s also been use of racial slurs like the n-word and says Black cast members weren’t considered for roles solely based on their skin color.
Former co-director of the singing group, Gin Alley Sallys, Jennifer Damico alleges inappropriate touching, groping, and harassment by members.
Damico says victims have made complaints for years, but nothing ever happened.
On Tuesday, KRON4 reached out to Red Barn Productions, the company that puts on the fair. The owner Kevin Patterson responded in part:
“These allegations are simply untrue. The only specific incidents of racism at the Dickens Christmas Fair ever reported to management involved a member of the general public confusing a Black cast member with that of a slave. Many people of color take part in the event every year, which has always strived to be inclusive and welcoming to people of all communities.”
Darden says they provided fair leaders with an anti-racism initiative which was a 53 point, 5-year plan of things that the fair could do to improve the culture and environment. However, she says they’re still waiting on many of those actions.