Christmas Towne returns to Chugiak

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 12:08

Santa’s helpers have been busily hanging Christmas decorations and stringing up lights at a Boy Scout camp in Chugiak, which for the second year is being transformed into a temporary holiday village.

“We’re putting on the final touches,” Christmas Towne owner Cortney Moore said Monday, four days before the annual venture opens on Black Friday.

Moore started Christmas Towne last year with her husband, Jason, as a way to spread Christmas cheer and create a place where children could experience “something magical,” she said.

“It was solely on the premise of giving my kids memories,” she said.

Moore said she wanted to be a part of creating something “magical” for her children and other that would be part of the community for years to come.

“I think kids are missing something by not having those kinds of annual traditions,” she said.

Last year was the first year for Christmas Towne, and Moore said she learned a few lessons she’ll use to make the experience better this year. One way of doing that is dropping the admission fee. Rather than paying to get into Christmas Towne this year, she said people can visit for free — although there will a charge for some of the activities.

“This year we did a reverse business model,” she said.

That means people can visit and see Santa or wander the grounds without paying a cover charge, she said.

The “towne” itself will include arts and crafts, visits from Santa (and his reindeer), gingerbread houses, a letter-writing station, a S’mores cabin, appearances by Santa’s elves, a snowball fight field, cookie-making and more, all centered around Christmas. There will also be prize raffles and opportunities for people to donate to local nonprofits. Moore said she partners with numerous area nonprofits and charities for the event, which this year will also include a charity 5K run to benefit foster children in Alaska through the Pump up the Kids charity, which provides gifts to foster teens.

“Every year we try to focus on a different nonprofit,” she said.

The 5K will be held Saturday, Dec. 9 at 10:30 a.m. Cost is $20 for adults and $10 for kids and people can sign up online at christmastownealaska.com.

Moore said the website is also the best place to go for event schedules, attractions and more information about Christmas Towne. The event opens Friday, Nov. 24 and will run Fridays through Sundays from 1 to 8 p.m. eachweekend through Christmas Eve.

Moore said she hopes the event is bigger and better than last year and continues to listen to suggestions about ways to make it better.

“We’re making improvements every single week,” she said.

Although creating a monthlong holiday festival is a lot of work, Moore said it’s worth it when she gets to see kids having fun.

“Even though there’s a lot of work there’s a lot of reward in it,” she said.

Christmas Towne is located at Camp Gorsuch on the shores of Mirror Lake. To get there, take the Mirror Lake exit off the Glenn Highway and follow the signs.

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