Weather Alert

Pandemic prompts scaled back Christmas tradition in Alaska

In this photo provided by the Alaska National Guard, soldiers from 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, unload gifts from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Nanwalek, Alaska, during Operation Santa Claus, on Dec. 11, 2020. Operation Santa Claus is an Alaska National Guard annual community outreach program that provides Christmas gifts, books, school supplies and stocking stuffers to children in rural Alaskan communities. The Alaska National Guard and the Salvation Army were able to provide and deliver gifts for the program's 65th year, but had to scale back distribution parties that are normally held in the villages because of COVID-19. (Edward Eagerton/U.S. Army National Guard via AP)

By MARK THIESSEN Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Operation Santa Claus looked a little bit different this year in rural Alaska as COVID-19 safety precautions pared back the annual Alaska National Guard tradition. Normally, the Guard and Salvation Army travel to two or three largely Alaska Native villages to deliver Christmas gifts during a party overseen by Santa and Mrs. Claus. But this year, the Guard delivered boxes of gifts to the runways in Stevens Village, Birch Creek and Nanwalek. From there, locals picked up the gifts and delivered them to homes around town. David Kriska is the first chief in Stevens Village. He said it was nice the organizers reached out and wanted to do something for the village of about 30 residents.


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