Children wave as Santa Claus arrives on top of a firetruck Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, at the Christmas Comes to Kenai celebration at the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Children wave as Santa Claus arrives on top of a firetruck Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, at the Christmas Comes to Kenai celebration at the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Time for the season

Kenai rolls out holiday events

The holidays are full steam ahead on the Kenai.

Soldotna Parks and Recreation is hosting this weekend its 29th annual holiday bazaar at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Madalyn McEwen, the activities director at the center, said vendors of all sorts will bring handmade goodies — everything from crafts and jams to essential oils and baby clothes.

“We’re hoping that we get a bunch of people to come through,” she said.

The bazaar will be open on Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Just before Thanksgiving — from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 24 — the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank will be hosting an early dinner to celebrate the holiday.

Greg Meyer, the executive director of the food bank, said he’s excited to host an in-person Thanksgiving dinner this year, after the pandemic spurred them to host a takeout-style event last year.

Additionally, the food bank hasn’t yet been able to host a holiday meal in their newly renovated dining space.

“We’re excited … it’s a new territory,” Meyer said. “We got to get open again.”

He said traditional dishes will be on the menu: turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing and an array of pies.

“They always do a wonderful job,” Meyer said of the kitchen staff.

The food bank closed its dining hall during the first wave of the pandemic, and was able to reopen early last spring as COVID-19 cases seemed to subside. When the virus started circulating rapidly again late last summer, Meyer said, they shut down for another two and half months.

Now, though, they are ready to feed 100 to 150 people for Thanksgiving.

“We are just so grateful for the community,” Meyer said. “We have yet to miss a meal.”

The Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is starting its winter holiday season early, hosting the annual “Christmas Comes to the Kenai” event on Nov. 26 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kim Sparacio, the programs and facilities coordinator at the center, said she’s looking forward to this year.

“I think that it’s going to turn out even better than before,” she said.

Mr. Claus will be arriving on a firetruck at the visitor center at 11 a.m. to take photos with the kids and his reindeer and elves. The kiddos will be able to snack on cookies and sip cocoa while they’re waiting in line for pictures, Sparacio said.

Then at 6 p.m., the public is invited back to watch the electric lights parade downtown and gather for a bonfire at the visitor center. The parade will be shortly followed by a firework show to cap the festivities at 7 p.m.

Sparacio said the support and sponsorships have allowed for more fireworks and events.

“The community has really pulled through,” she said.

Additional holiday events this month include:

A Thanksgiving dinner pickup at the Kenai Senior Center on Nov. 23. Call 907-283-4156 to RSVP a meal.

A Thanksgiving drive-thru meal at the Kenai Salvation Army on Nov. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 907-283-4035 to register.

The annual Kenai Arts and Crafts Fair at Kenai Central High School from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27.

The Yo Tacos Christmas bazaar at the Peninsula Center Mall on Nov. 26-28. The bazaar is open on Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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