Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Polar Wonders

Magnet # 423:  Juneau Winter Landscape

Material:  Metal, Paper, Mylar Shell

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

Now that the Winter Solstice has come and gone, life will be getting a little dark up in parts of Alaska.  In fact, some places didn't even have any sunlight on the day of December 21st.  The worst place for all of this may very well be Barrow, where the Sun has been gone since mid-November and won't return until January.  But there is a bright side to all of this (no pun intended) - during Winter, Fall, and Summer, it's a much better time to take in the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis.  This phenomena, which is basically just the collision of charged particles, or plasma, and Earth's magnetic field, certainly produces a radiant light show, particularly in polar regions.  It's said to be much more impressive in person than you could imagine, even though images of Aurora Borealis are still stunning.  I'd certainly like to get a chance to see them for myself, perhaps in Alaska.  But that's certainly not everything that the Last Frontier has to offer.

Based on the snowman and wreath featured on this magnet, Juneau is probably full of the Christmas spirit, but if you're in Alaska and really want to overindulge in the season, head just about 700 miles northwest.  There, you'll find the North Pole.  No really - there is a small city just outside of Fairbanks with more than two thousand residents called North Pole.  It was given that name back in 1952 by a local entrepreneur in the hopes that it would gain the area all sorts of attention and maybe even bring a toy manufacturer to the area.  They thought one might appreciate having all of their offerings made at the North Pole.  While I don't think any toy companies ever opened up shop there, the city has still become somewhat famous for its unique name.  It's also given the citizens a special sense of the Holiday spirit and they've dubbed the streets there with appropriate names like Santa Claus Lane, Kris Kringle Drive, Snowman Lane, and St. Nicholas Drive.  Also, the city's street lights are decked out in candy cane stripes, police vehicles are green and white, while firetrucks and ambulances are red.  And an old trading post has taken on a new life as the Santa Claus House, the area's biggest tourist attraction.  It's owned by a man who used to dress up as Santa Claus himself and decided to rename his business when a local boy recognized him and asked if he was building a new house.  With time, the goods sold there shifted from wilderness necessities to Christmas-themed decorations and souvenirs.  And his wife, a Marriage Commissioner, has married thousands of couples at the store.  It's also home to the world's largest fiberglass Santa statue, a 42 foot tall behemoth weighing in at 900 pounds.  The local U.S. Post Office is also a important spot for the city, as it features the North Pole postmark.  Thousands of people all over the country send their Holiday cards there so they can be sent off to friends and relatives with the very special postmark.  They also receive all sorts of letters from children to Santa Claus and volunteers who serve as "Santa's Helpers" make every effort to answer as many as possible.  Best of all, much of the entire city is decorated for Christmas yearlong.  I'd love to live somewhere that provided me with a good excuse to keep my trees, ornaments and other Christmas trinkets up all 365 days of the year.  Unfortunately, most of those places tend to have snow, and considering I'm not a big fan of that, I'll just have to continue taking my decorations down.  But I do tend to put that off as long as I can - and not just out of laziness.  Still, it's nice to know there are special places like North Pole, Alaska that keep the Christmas spirit alive no matter what the season, and a brush with the Holidays is just a plane ride or long drive away.


  1. I'll bet they can count on a white Christmas. Something most of us in the lower 48 (and of course Hawaii) have little chance of seeing.

  2. Yep, out of any state in the Union, Alaska's the best bet for a White Christmas!