Soldotna’s winter wonderland

There is no shortage of hot chocolate and Christmas trees on the Kenai Peninsula this holiday season, especially at Soldotna’s Christmas in the Park.

On Saturday night, steam rose from the cups of hot chocolate in the hands of children patiently awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus throughout Soldotna Creek Park during the annual Christmas tree lighting. The Christmas spirit filled the park, with the help of the Kenai Central High School chamber choir’s rendition of a selection of holiday favorites. Some children whispered to one another, guessing where Santa would come from. Others stayed busy playing in the snow, but staying warm by building bigger and bigger snowmen.

When Santa did arrive, from stage right, he was greeted by Sen. Peter Micciche, the evening’s master of ceremony, and six-year-old Madison Hipbshman.

“It’s been nearly a year since I’ve seen you,” Micciche said to the man in red.

“Well, I do only come around one time a year,” Santa Claus responded.

Madison looked up at Santa, while donning her ‘Merry Christmas’ hat, and told him how good she had been this year.

“I’ve been really good because I have a baby brother,” she said. Her brother is two-months-old, but it turns out Madison can’t get enough of babies. She’s asking Santa for a baby toy.

“It’s like a fake baby. It’s a doll that you feed and change it’s diaper. Like a real baby,” Madison said. “It’s a fake one though.”

Madison said her favorite part of meeting Santa wasn’t the promise of gifts, though, it was how fuzzy he was.

After catching up with Micciche and hearing all about Madison’s wish list, Santa helped light the Christmas tree in the middle of Soldotna Creek Park. The tall structure may not have any branches, but it’s full of bright lights that illuminated the park for the rest of the evening while Santa heard the wishes of local children.

Darling Brown was also good this year, and is hoping she is rewarded with her dream toy.

“I talked to Santa about what I want for Christmas,” Darling said. “I want an American Girl Doll set… You have like horses, beds and clothes and you get you own doll.”

Darling said the reason why she’s been good is because if her little brothers didn’t have something they wanted, she would give them her’s.

“I gave everything that was mine,” Darling said.

Her younger brother, Daniel, said he’s been good too.

“I was good because I did everything that my mom and dad said,” Daniel said. “I’m asking Santa for this thing where you have these goggles on and it looks like your driving in the front seat.”

His mom, Lacey Brown, decided not to throw Daniel under the bus in front of Santa Claus and agreed that he’s been good “for the most part.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at

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