Heather Churchill, of Nikiski, takes a picture of her daughters, Jillian on the left, and Jane on the right, as they sit on Santa's lap Friday at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. The event was part of the Christmas Comes to Kenai festivities.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Arranging a meeting with Santa Claus is serious business.
After all, he has millions of children to keep up with to be sure he doesn’t mix up who’s been naughty with who’s been nice, and for the latter, he has to remember what each one wants to see under the tree on Dec. 25.
Fortunately for area kids, the Kenai Peninsula is a lot closer to the North Pole than many cities in the Lower 48. As such, Santa came to the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center on Saturday, as he does every year as part of the Christmas Comes to Kenai event, giving local children a chance to get their requests in early.
This may sound simple enough, but as a few children proved, it isn’t as easy as their parents made it sound.
“We tried to coach him on the way over,” said Petra Krakovich in regard to her 3-year-old son, Michael.
“We explained to him how it worked and that he should tell Santa what he wants. He had several things he was going to ask for,” she said.
When the moment finally came and Michael was placed on Santa’s knee, he froze up like an icicle dangling from a roof awning.
Santa did his best to coax it out of him, asking, “What do you want little boy?”
It only made matters worse. Michael, who only seconds before was in a near catatonic state, immediately began screaming the second the last word left Santa’s lips.
Not all the children had such a hard time communicating, though. Some, like Tigger Piersee, 7, of Kenai, had a game plan and carried it out.
“We got here about a quarter after eleven,” said Tigger’s mother, Astrea Piersee.
They said last year they came later and were at the back of the line waiting on a cold winter day, but by arriving early this year they were among the first ones in line.
Tigger also knew exactly what she was going to ask for.
“I want a Bratz Diamonds,” she said and proceeded to explain in great detail that this is a fashion-themed doll that comes with a portable modeling runway where an iPod can be plugged in to play music for a “fashion show on the go.”
While not all the children’s requests were so ornate, there were many who had put an equal amount of consideration into what they wanted.
Some kids, like Kiernan Lambert of Kenai, carried handwritten lists to be sure they didn’t forget anything.
“He takes this very seriously,” said his mother, Ashley Lambert.
At 4 years old Kiernan’s handwriting is still developing, so to ensure Santa made no mistakes Ashley held up her own handwritten notecards for Santa to see so he could seamlessly acknowledge what the boy asked for.
In all, more than 200 children made their way onto Santa’s lap, and Janie Odgers, executive director of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce said they are who the event was designed for.
“It’s important for us to have something for the children of this community,” she said.
Odgers added the day after Thanksgiving is an especially good time for the event because many people are off work, have family in town, and most importantly, “It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.”
Santa’s visit wasn’t the only festive event Friday. Later that afternoon the Electric Light Parade went through town with this year’s Queen of Kenai, Anita Necessary, riding in a dogsled pulled by the 2004 Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey.
After the parade a bonfire next to the chamber’s cabin added to the warmth of the season. The evening ended with a fireworks display.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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