A record-setting event

Merry Merchant Munch, Winter Wonderland set for Friday-Saturday


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Children welcome Santa as he arrives at the 2010 Winter Wonderland event while Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susie Gorski goes along for the ride.

STAR FILE PHOTO

This year’s 21st Annual Merry Merchant Munch and Winter Wonderland events are bigger than ever.

A record 62 businesses are participating in the Munch on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7, said Merry Braham, special events coordinator for the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.

“Lots of new places this year,” she said.

The Munch, during which residents can visit each local business and enjoy tasty treats for free, runs from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

All of the participating businesses are listed in the Munch guide and songbook — which is available at the Chamber (12001 Business Blvd.) and the Star office (11401 Old Glenn Highway, suite 105).

Play the Passport to Fun game to be entered to win prizes. People who visit 20 businesses and have their map stamped at each location should turn their map in to Jitters by 4 p.m. on Saturday. The drawing will be held later that day.

The influx of new participants will make judging for this year’s Munch awards difficult, Braham said.

“There are no losers,” she said. “Everybody is a winner that participates.”

Another record will be set this year when students from eight local elementary choirs sing at the Winter Wonderland, which starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Town Square in Eagle River.

“It’s going to be a great thing,” Braham said.

Along with the entertainment, there will be cookies, hot chocolate, horse-drawn sleigh rides and sledding.

“Lots of holiday cheer,” Braham said.

The tree-lighting ceremony is set for 7 p.m., Braham said, and Santa and his reindeer will follow.

Town Square will glisten thanks to new lights, Braham said.

“Parks and Rec has gone above and beyond to make this thing festive,” she said. “You have to wait to see it.”

There will also be plenty of opportunities to give back to the community Friday. The Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center will be holding a fundraiser, Eagle River Rotary is collecting canned good for the Chugiak-Eagle River Food Pantry and the Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions are collecting toys for its Tree of Giving, which provides gifts to needy families.

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