NORTH POLE — Excited children of all ages, from babies in bulky snowsuits to girls and boys in their Sunday best, all waited with varying levels of patience for a last-minute chance to sit on the red velveted lap of the big man and breathlessly explain the presents they’d like to see under the tree on Christmas morning.
The hundreds of children kept parents, who wore weary but cheery expressions, in tow. One mother, grasping the hand of a son who held a peppermint stick in his other hand, chided a husband who dared complain about the two-hour wait.
“He has to see Santa,” she said, placing impatient emphasis on the word “has.”
It’s a scene that was repeated in countless malls across the country, but none could compare to the Santa Claus House in North Pole, which can proudly claim to have the real Santa.
Hundreds of people visited the Santa Claus House on Sunday, the home of the only Santa Claus in the Fairbanks area.
Despite a lengthy wait, Tiffany Damota-Supple, of Fairbanks, watched with a smile as her daughters, dressed in matching black dresses with wide red belts tied in a bow, shared their wish lists with the gregarious Santa Claus.
Santa listened in rapt attention as 6-year-old Alaya informed him she would like a stuffy (a stuffed animal) and surprises for Christmas. Her older sister,
9-year-old Kayli, asked for a diary to write in like the popular
children’s book “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”
“We had to come to give Santa their wish lists,” Tiffany said. “They love living out by the real Santa Claus House.”
In a town that pegs so much of its identity on the holiday spirit, with peppermint candy canes, year-round decorations and more than its fair share of red Santa caps, one would think its residents would grow weary about this time of year.
That’s not the case for Lisa and Roger Havens, who brought Lisa’s 10-year-old son, Sean Ramga, to see Santa.
“I love it here all year round,” Lisa said.
Her husband smiles, bragging about his father’s Christmas lights.
“If the electric bills weren’t so much, I’d have the lights up all the time,” he said. “The only reason my house isn’t covered in decorations is because we just finished building it.”
Upstairs, away from the busy chatter of the shop, Santa Claus House owner Mike Miller reflects that Christmas is much more than presents, reindeer and the red and white that adorns so many of the area’s businesses.
“In many ways it’s a frame of mind,” he said. “Christmas is a happy time of year. Sure, downstairs people are waiting to see Santa, but by and large they’re pretty happy. People are friendly; they’re a little happier. We like to say it’s Christmas in North Pole all year round.”