CultureReligionSmall Alaska town goes big to celebrate ‘birth of Jesus’

These Alaskans aren’t shy about celebrating Christmas. Every year the historic farming town of Palmer sets aside a large chunk of time and resources to celebrate the Nativity of Christ. For three full days Christmas literally takes over the town of 6,323 people. Surrounded by snow capped mountains and two glaciers, Palmer coined its annual celebration “Colony Christmas” in a nod to the 203 families who established the community in 1935. The town founders traveled...
Joel Davidson Joel Davidson2 months ago6144 min

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These Alaskans aren’t shy about celebrating Christmas.

Every year the historic farming town of Palmer sets aside a large chunk of time and resources to celebrate the Nativity of Christ. For three full days Christmas literally takes over the town of 6,323 people.

Surrounded by snow capped mountains and two glaciers, Palmer coined its annual celebration “Colony Christmas” in a nod to the 203 families who established the community in 1935. The town founders traveled north by train and ship from the Midwest as part of a New Deal project to establish a northern agricultural outpost.

When asked to describe the heart of Colony Days, Mayor Edna DeVries pointed to the birth of Christ.

“To me that is the basis of Christmas,” she said. “And for those in our community of other faiths, it is a chance to get out of the darkness and experience our sense of community with neighbors and friends.”

DeVries praised her hometown for putting a priority on developing friendships and community ties.

“As we get bigger, I hope that continues,” she said. “Palmer is a caring community and that is the basis of Christianity. Jesus came to save us and provide for our eternal life, as well as for us to have an abundant life here on earth. Part of that is caring for others.”

“Colony Christmas” now includes the lighting of Christmas trees, arts and craft fairs, Christmas caroling, movies, plays, pancake breakfasts, a visit from Santa, free cookies, hot chocolate and chili, kids games, pony rides, opportunities to pet and feed live reindeer, a 5K race, dances and much more.

Churches get in on the official events, offering Nativity displays and free Christmas concerts. In the spirit of “good will towards men” there are ample opportunities to give to those in need through food and toy drives, blood donations and other fundraisers.

Mayor DeVries said she most looks forward to the downtown parade, the fireworks display, and the craft fairs.

She added: “And as somebody raised on ranches and farms with animals, I always enjoy the horse drawn sled rides.”

Dozens of businesses, churches and non-profits donate time and money to help pull off Colony Christmas, which is organized through the Palmer Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s event runs Friday through Sunday, Dec. 13-15, in Palmer. Events take place from morning to evening. Click here to view the full calendar of activities.

Joel Davidson

Joel Davidson

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