The Time We Saw Santa At The North Pole

The North Pole Alaska, that is. 

 

Not the actual North Pole which is in fact 1700 miles North in the middle of the Artic Ocean and can only be reached by really intrepid explorers, of which I am not one. 

And it wasn’t the real Santa. 

Instead it was 13m tall, fibreglass statue of the big man, often referred to but not officially, the tallest Santa statue in the world. (That title, according to the Guinness book of records, actually belongs to the Portuguese town of Águede, where a 21m version has sat on the riverbank there since 2016). 

Either way Alaskan Santa is huge, tipping the scales at just over 900 pounds. 

He was first built for the World’s fair in Seattle in 1962, but eventually made his way to the North Pole, arriving first in four pieces, having been deconstructed in order to fit underneath the overpasses on the Parks Highway. After putting him back together and a little bit of TLC,  he was finally erected outside his rightful home in 1983, where he has proudly stood ever since. 

Outside where else, but Santa Claus House, at number 101, St Nicholas Drive, North Pole, Alaska. 

(Which incidentally is located off Santa Clause Lane and near Snowman Lane and Kris Kringle Drive. And no I am not making these up). 

This town loves Christmas so much that many of the street lamps are red and white striped, like  giant candy caneswhile the town motto is “Where the Spirit of Christmas Lives Year Round!”. 

Outside Santa’s brightly decorated house, reindeers graze inside pens – disappointedly I could not find Rudolph – and the car park holds designated sleigh parking areas. 

 

GIANT SANTA ALASKA
SANTA HOUSE ALASKA

Inside Santa’s House it is Christmas on steroids.

  

Lights, bauble, tinsel’s and elves fill every inch of spacewhile on the wall a ‘Countdown to Christmas clock’, shows that unfortunately I still have over 120 days, 12 hours, 49 minutes and 20 seconds to wait until the actual day! 

So how did Santa Clause’s house end up in the North Pole (Alaska)? 

Well at first it was a simple trading post founded by Con and Nellie Miller in 1952. Con was a merchant and fur buyer and when travelling through the neighbouring villages would put on an old red coat to entertain the children. When they opened the trading post, he was recognised by one of the young visitors, who asked him if this was Santa’s HouseSo the store was renamed but still continued to sell more basic necessities, and as post office and general store, became a gathering place for the local residents of the expanding North Pole. 

It was only in the 70s, when the Richardson Highway was relocated, that a new bigger brighter storefront was built, to attract passing tourists, with Christmas trinkets eventually replacing canned goods. Over the years the store has expanded further, adding an additional wing, reindeers, and of course the giant Santa statue. 

One thing that hasn’t changed in over 60 years is the letters from Santa that are still sent to every child that addresses the letter to Santa, North Pole, AK, with Santa even using the same stationary set since 1960! 

I loved the North Pole, even in the middle of August, but this wasn’t the only Christmas themed adventure we had on our Alaska trip. 

outside Santa's House Alaska

Let’s talk about Brussels.

 Not the country but the vegetable. 

The marmite of the vegetable world. 

But whether you love them or loathe them, you can be sure that pretty soon they’ll be at least one or two of the little green balls appearing on dinner plates across the UK. Because it’s nearly Christmas, and Christmas without Brussels is like Santa without Rudolph. It just doesn’t feel right. 

When I was younger the Brussels were served lukewarm and soggy. Tasting of little and smelling like sulphur. They were not good. 

Over the years I have grown to quite like Brussels, mainly in part to some of my trips across the US, where they are often found served on the side of steak, shredded and covered in butter, or chopped in a crunchy salad. 

In Haines, Alaska, a few weeks before our trip to the North Pole I ate the most mind-blowing brussels of my life. 

In a pizza parlour. In Alpenglow Wood Fired Pizza Parlour to be precise. I wasn’t expecting to eat brussels here. It is not normally what I would ask for on the side of my pizza. But we had been travelling on the Alaskan Marine Highway through the Inside Passage for several weeks now, and very little green had graced my plate in that time, other than the occasional gherkin from my burger. 

So we ordered the side of blackened brussels with blue cheese. 

 Wow. The char from the pizza oven, the crunch, the saltiness of the cheese. The pizza was great, but was pushed aside for the vegetables. I would run back to Alaska for another plate of these.  

brussels in blue cheese
haines brewery

And that wasn’t the only surprise from our two day stay in Haines. 

Aside from the jaw dropping view from our B and B across the Lynn Canal; the sunset from the beer garden of Haines Brewerythe flightseeing tour over Glacier Bay Park, and our close encounter with a family of brown bears hunting for salmon down at Chilkoot State Park. 

We also saw the Northern Lights 

In August.  

And if that’s not a Christmas miracle I don’t know what is. 

Thanks Santa. 

northern lights
brown bear

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