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Home for the holidays

First family welcomes city to open house

Posted: December 4, 2011 - 1:08am
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Seventh-graders Sami Good, left, and Jera Stephens work on their ginger bread house with other students in teacher Jodie Buck's Home Economics class at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School on Friday. Three of Buck's classes are producing ginger bread houses and decorations that will be on display for the Governor's Open House on Tuesday.   Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Seventh-graders Sami Good, left, and Jera Stephens work on their ginger bread house with other students in teacher Jodie Buck's Home Economics class at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School on Friday. Three of Buck's classes are producing ginger bread houses and decorations that will be on display for the Governor's Open House on Tuesday.

It looks like it will be wet, rather than white, for the Christmas open house hosted by Gov. Sean Parnell and first lady Sandy Parnell this year.

The annual holiday event will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday

“Sandy and I look forward to this wonderful Juneau tradition and invite everyone in the community to the open house,” Parnell said in a statement issued by his office.

Thousands of Juneau residents look forward to the event every year, and no matter the weather line up to stand in line for the opportunity to walk though the historic house, greet the governor and first lady and sample cookies and other treats. They’ll also get a look at the prominent house that many call a “mansion,” but which is formally called simply the “Governor’s House.”

The Governor’s House was built in 1912, with the first open house held by Territorial Gov. Eli Clark on New Year’s Day in 1913. A holiday open house has been held almost every year since, although it was suspended for a few years during World War II. That means the 100th such event is still a few years away.

Helping to make the traditional wait in line at least seem shorter will be another tradition, as members of the Governor’s Cabinet and his staff will serve hot apple cider and holiday treats to the guests queued up on Calhoun Avenue to enter.

Before the general public enters, those with special access needs can arrange early entry to the event at 2:30 p.m. by calling house manager Erika Fagerstrom at 465-3500.

Once inside, guests will be able to greet the first family and help themselves to more cookies and candy. More than 24,000 cookies and 100 pounds of fudge and chocolate candy are being prepared for the event.

Entertainers from local community and school groups will perform both inside and outside the house.

The interior of the house has been decorated by the Capital City Republican Women, and gingerbread houses made by students at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School will be on display as well.

Parnell said in a statement made available by his staff he hoped Juneau residents would come out to visit the house, and also remember others as well.

“During this special time of the year, we keep our service members and their families in our thoughts and prayers. On behalf of my family, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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