Visitors flock to mansion for annual tradition

Juneau residents young and old wandered through the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday, appreciating the historic house decked out in its Christmas finery and marveling at their unprecedented access to the state’s top leaders.

Gov. Sean Parnell, first lady Sandy Parnell and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell welcomed thousands of people to the Governor’s House in a tradition that began 99 years ago.

“I think it is really cool for us to be able to come in and see what’s inside, especially with it having been closed off with renovations for so long,” said Alison Pozman, visiting for the first time.

“I love the way it’s decorated — it’s Christmas-classy,” she said.

Also happy to get into the house was Gov. Parnell himself.

Extensive repairs to the HVAC system and replacing the boiler drove them out of the house for two months.

“We’re looking forward to being back in the mansion,” he said, following two months of living in a rented apartment in Juneau.

Other things were less significant but more noticeable, including changing the dining room color from mauve to gold.

“We’re working to bring in the Alaska colors, gold and blue, on the main floor,” he said.

The visitors were just happy to be in the Governor’s House, especially those who had lived elsewhere.

“It’s neat that Alaska is so open you can meet the governor,” said Tory Beninese.

“I’ve lived in other states, Texas and Arizona, and its really hard to meet the governor, here it happens a lot,” he said.

Bennetsen’s son, Tayten, was performing with one of the many school groups that provided entrainment during the day.

“Christmas is really about a sense of community, and Juneau is really good about that,” Beninese said.

Parnell, meeting with local reporters before the event, expressed similar views about the holiday, remembered and gave thanks for family, the military men and women overseas and the people of Alaska.

“Lets enjoy this time as a community and let’s give thanks for who we are as a people,” he said.

Juneau’s John Roxpurgh said he appreciated the most recent in a succession of governors holding the event.

“It’s nice they open it up to the people, and despite whatever is going on just celebrate together,” he said.

It’s become a Christmas tradition for him to visit the open house, he said, and to sample some of the 24,000 cookies and 100 pounds of fudge and candies that will be offered.

“Even though the last thing I need are more cookies, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas or the Christmas season without it,” he said.

Gretchen Neal, accompanying aunt Alison Pozman, was also appreciative.

“I think it’s really nice, and fun to get to come and meet the governor,” she said.

One tourist even came to the event. Anchorage’s Holly Furman was heading south for the holidays on one of the Alaska Airlines specials, and took the opportunity to stop off and see Juneau for a few days.

She was happy to see all of the Alaska Native art that’s in the house, along with the seasonal decorations.

“I love all of the decorations,” she said. “It’s very classy, and very Alaskan.”

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or


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