Red and green fireworks bring holiday cheer to epopel attending the Christmas Comes to Kenai celebration Friday night. The show was the grand finale for a day of holiday activities.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The children of the Kenai Peninsula are some of the first children in the world visited by Santa this year and received 3 1/2 hours of his time Friday at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.
Janie Odgers, Kenai Chamber of Commerce director, said Kenai kids are among the first to tell Santa their wishes as a result of the relatively close proximity to Santa's home-office in the North Pole.
Following recent tradition, Santa arrived by way of the Kenai Fire Department ladder truck, waving and ringing his bell. Greg Coon, firefighter, helped escort the man of the day to the visitors center. Coon said the fire department provides Santa's reindeer a place to rest while he visits the peninsula.
"It's exciting to do. We help Santa with a ride just about every year while we take care of his reindeer and feed them," he said.
While the elves kept busy at the North Pole toy factory and foundry to meet rising demands, local kids volunteered their time to act as temporary elves. The elf stand-ins were Girl Scouts from troops 50 and 221. They generally thought Santa was a good boss, but didn't pay that well. Regardless, they enjoyed being mistaken for real elves while they maintained a safe environment for visitors. Alice Han, age 10 elf, held an important post at the door to the waiting room and observed scores of Santa's visitors.
Nelson Amen and his son Chris lead other s in song in front of Friday's bonfire.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"Some of the kids look kind of nervous because they're about to talk to Santa. But the parents seem pretty happy," Han said.
As for the authenticity of St. Nick, there was little room for doubt among the Girl Scout elves.
"Of course it's the real Santa Claus. He's jolly, he's big and chubby and he's got the white beard to prove it. Santa rocks," commented Briana King, elf.
Santa said there were lots of boys who asked for toy soldiers, and girls asked for dolls. Lauryn Sydney, age 6, said she planned on asking for a teddy bear, a Care Bear, and a Barbie. When asked why she thought she had a good chance of actually getting those things, she replied, "Because I love those things."
Kjell Nillson, age 5, and Bjorn Nillson, age 2, asked Santa for remote-control monster-trucks.
"He told us he's making some," Kjell Nillson said.
Santa visited with more than 250 anxious children and was ready to relax by the end of the day.
"I'll be in Hawaii tomorrow for some 'R and R'," Santa said wearily.
He is going to need to be in top shape for his upcoming travels. That's according to a study on Santa Claus and the logistics and physics of his delivery service, which was conducted by Joel Potischman and Bruce Handy and can be found on the Internet at www.religioustolerance.org/ santa2.htm. The Web site states Santa must leave gifts for 667 million children in 189 million homes in just 31 hours or 1,860 minutes. This might be a chore, since most known species of reindeer can run (at best) 15 mph, but only Santa knows how fast they can fly.
Santa was happy to talk to each child who came because he loves what he does to keep the spirit of Christmas alive, he said.
"I'm not pushing the clock. I do this for the meaning of Christmas and to see the smiles on children's faces," Santa said.
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