St. Nick lights Soldotna's Tree and collects wishes at CES...

As warm winds from the South Pacific moved north to Alaska last week it was the City of Soldotna's turn to light up the night for the holidays. "It was a great time and warmer temperatures made it ideal for outdoor hayrides this year thanks to Diamond M Ranch and Ridgeway Farms. But of course the main draw was the big guy himself, Jolly Ol' Santa Clause who arrived in the CES Fire truck again this year. Hundreds of families turned out and we had lots of cookies, games and activities to keep them busy while waiting for a turn on Santa's knee," reported January Yaeger, events coordinator for the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce.

The annual event centers around the lighting of the living Christmas Tree at the Central Emergency Services headquarters where Santa joins with the City Mayor and his family for the count down to ignite the lights strung around the tree by HEA professionals. When asked what Santa was whispering in the Mayor's ear just before the lighting Micciche replied, "Actually at 750 years old he had forgotten his reading glasses and asked me for a little help with the plugging the tree in this year," he smiled. Looking around Micciche noticed how many of the families who turned out with their children to visit with Santa this year were the folks who are employed by the local retailers of the Central Peninsula, "It underscores the importance of shopping locally, a side from the sales tax that stays in the city, these jobs help keep our young families employed and keeps the goods that we want available in our community. Tonight thanks to CES and the Chamber, their board and volunteers is all about bringing families together to see Santa and celebrate the holidays. The turn out was terrific and a lot of young families enjoying the festivities because of the jobs our community provides," added Micciche.

Thanks to the many sponsors and volunteers the tree lighting celebration went off without a hitch and all the boys and girls had a chance on Santa's knee. Janet Pope of Natron Air made sure that an ample variety of Christmas cookies and January Yaeger did a stellar job organizing all the activities. When a concerned Santa inquired as to the where a bouts of the Chamber's executive director Michelle Glaves, Yaeger replied, "Oh she's fine, she got her present early this year and is on her way home from Maui." Mayor Micciche added, "I called her the other day when it was -20 and all she did was put her phone up to the surf." Santa simply took out his list and checked it twice. There just may be a little local Beluga coal in Michelle's stocking December 25th.