Current weather

  • Overcast
  • 63°
  • Comment

Electric lights and explosions

Holiday season kicks off with Christmas Comes to Kenai

Posted: November 24, 2012 - 9:31pm  |  Updated: November 24, 2012 - 10:32pm
Back | Next
Five-year-old Aliisia Tepp, of Soldotna, waits anxiously for Santa on Friday. It was Santa's first apperance in Kenai as part of the Christmas Comes to Kenai celebrations, and the line ran out the door.                               Dan Schwartz
Dan Schwartz
Five-year-old Aliisia Tepp, of Soldotna, waits anxiously for Santa on Friday. It was Santa's first apperance in Kenai as part of the Christmas Comes to Kenai celebrations, and the line ran out the door.

The line ran out the door of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Friday. It was thick with children and parents — all waiting for Santa.

“I want a rocking robot horsey that can carry my weight,” 5-year-old Aaliyah Bookey said.

It was the Kenai resident’s second time waiting with her mom and sister to see Santa in the city’s Christmas Comes to Kenai celebrations; though she was more excited to see his helpers.

“I get to see his funny elf,” she said, giggling. “He has pointy ears.”

Further in the line that wound throughout the visitor center, with parents holding their children’s winter jackets and children holding half eaten candy canes, Mayor Pat Porter handed out more candy, asking children want they want for Christmas.

“I want a hamster,” 6-year-old Makenna McAlpin said, “and if he can’t get me a hamster I want an American Girl Doll.”

Morgan McAlpin, 3, waited next to her sister.

Her sister, of Kenai, had seen Santa in past years during the city’s celebrations, but it was Morgan McAlpin’s first time. She was nervous, said her father, standing next to her.

She said she wanted a Play-Doh Doggy.

Later that night, hundreds of people lined Frontage Road. Blues and reds and greens and yellows — all varieties of colors — flashed off the faces of people from Kasilof, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling and Kenai at the Electric Lights Parade.

“Look,” said a child. “Here comes Santa.”

Riding in the arm of a fire truck, Santa rounded a corner.

“Merry Christmas,” he said. “Merry Christmas. Ho-ho-ho.”

Elsewhere in the procession, 8-year-old Jillian Gagnon and 6-year-old Kylee Verkuilen rode on a trailer strung with Christmas lights.

Both the girls wore red and green suits with pointy hats. They were Santa’s helper elves, they said, and they were assembling football helmets on a table with a rubber mallet, a paint brush, a can of paint and a caulking gun.

“I’m making the helmets for all the little kids — and the big ones,” said Verkuilen, of Kenai.

Gagnon, of Soldotna, said she was looking forward to the fireworks, especially the pink ones.

Pink was also Verkuilen’s favorite color of firework, she said.

“I really think that’s cool,” she said. “And I like it when it explodes.”

Kenai resident Pat Gercaci said the fire works are a serious ordeal.

“Oh yeah, they’re big,” he said. “Big, big stuff. Like the explosive-kind ‘big.’”

He was standing with his family away from the towering bonfire in the visitor center lawn. Hundreds of people were gathered around the fire, and Christmas music played over speakers.

“I’ve been coming for years,” Gercaci said.

He said the fireworks shoot off in the baseball fields two streets up, but you can see them miles away in the sky.

Next to him, toddlers and teenagers rolled down piles of snow. Some flipped off, landing on their backs; others jumped and slid down.

Everyone was waiting. The fireworks only minutes away.

And then — pop.

And it shimmered down. A blazing green explosion. And an orange. A purple. Yellow. Green. Red.

“Awesome,” someone said. “Wow,” another said. “Spectacular.”

The air smelled of black powder, and smoke drifted low across the snow.

“It’s a great way to start the season,” said Scott Huff, standing with his family.


Dan Schwartz can be reached at

  • Comment

Comments (2) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
kenaialaskawoman 11/25/12 - 08:46 pm
Wonderful community event.

Wonderful community event. Thank you everyone who made this day such an outstanding small town activity. This is why we continue to love living here.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 11/28/12 - 08:52 am
Not every agrees

This is the 3rd time i have posted my disagreement about the supposed wonderfulness of this manmade holiday.
It does appear that if you don't agree with the writer about this then your comments even though nothing was out of line as far as i can see with the Clarions guidelines for opinions, my posts have been removed none the less.
I use to celebrate this time of year until the Lights came on and the truth of it's origin was revealed to me of how and who started this make believe holiday called christ-mas.
Sad how we refuse to listen or learn about the triditions we practice and their origins.

Back to Top


Please Note: You may have disabled JavaScript and/or CSS. Although this news content will be accessible, certain functionality is unavailable.

Skip to News

« back

next »

  • title
  • title
  • title
My Gallery


  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback