Christmas cheer lights up Chugiak-Eagle River

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 02:32
  • People warm themselves around a fire in Town Square Park during the Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Santa Claus waves to the crowd after the lighting of the community Christmas tree in Town Square Park during the Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • People listen to children singing Christmas carols in Town Square Park during the Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • The community Christmas tree in Town Square Park during the Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Alpenglow Elementary music teacher Geep Baranow directs students singining holiday songs in Town Square Park during the Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • A child runs around the Christmas tree in Town Square Park during the Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • A group of children walk toward the Winter Wonderland festivities in Town Square Park on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • People pet reindeer in Town Square Park during the Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

Holiday spirit burned hot on a chilly Friday night in Eagle River last week as the annual Winter Wonderland and Merry Merchant Munch events returned to fill Town Square Park with children, community and cheer.

The annual event brought hundreds of people to the small park downtown, where the Eagle River-Chugiak Parks and Recreation Department set up burn barrels for folks to warm their fingers in the cold evening air. Jon Nauman of the Horse Drawn Carriage Company provided old-time sleigh rides, while children from Chugiak, Alpenglow, Fire Lake, Homestead, Ravenwood and Birchwood elementary schools sang Christmas carols and other holiday songs.

Last year’s event was canceled due to the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake.

There was also hot soup and chili from the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center, a warming tent sponsored by Enstar and a sledding hill sponsored by Planet Fitness.

Other sponsors this year included MTA, MEA, the Eagle River Elks Club, the Mat Valley Federal Credit Union, ConocoPhillips, Sanitary Pumpers, Eagle River Area Rotary, BP Alaska, Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions, Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Anchorage Women’s Clinic, First Baptist Church Eagle River the American Cancer Society, MOM’s Club of Eagle River, Pizza Man, Jitters, Starbucks, The Alaska Club, Alaska USA, Cricket Wireless and First National Bank Alaska.

The event also featured visits from Santa Claus and a handful of reindeer from Santa’s Rest Station in the Butte. Bear Paw Queen Katie Fletcher, princess Kylie Grue and ambassador Natasha Wanner helped Santa light the tree, and Rotary foreign exchange student Carlotta Casu welcomed revelers with a special greeting from Italy.

“Buon Natale!” Casu told the crowd.

Translation?

“Merry Christmas!”

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