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Downtown Alpena welcomes Santa’s upcoming visits

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Savannah Peterson, Alpena Downtown Development Authority administrative and parking assistant, left, and DDA Executive Director Anne Gentry look at envelopes containing letters to Santa at Culligan Plaza. In the coming weeks, Santa will be in Alpena to visit children. Times and dates will be announced soon.

ALPENA — In the coming weeks, Santa Claus will take some time away from the North Pole to visit the boys and girls in Alpena.

Jolly ol’ St. Nick is expected to spend several weekends at his temporary house at Culligan Plaza, where he will meet with children, receive their Christmas list, and then retreat back to the North Pole to determine if they have been naughty or nice and deserving of items on their lists.

Anne Gentry, executive director of the Alpena Downtown Development Authority, said she is still coordinating when exactly Santa will arrive in Alpena and more details about the visits will be released soon and made easily available on social media and through the local media.

“We are finalizing the exact dates and times for his visits in December,” Gentry said. “We do know they will be on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. We are confirming additional volunteers and will announce the dates as soon as possible.”

Gentry said the holiday season is always exciting downtown. She said the decorations, official city Christmas tree in Culligan Plaza, and events such as the holiday parade are all top-notch, but the arrival of Santa really adds to the hype and excitement for Christmas.

“The arrival of Santa in Culligan Plaza is always an exciting time during the holidays downtown,” she said. “The city Department of Public Works puts out his house each year, and, to see the tree all lit up in Culligan Plaza, his house all decorated, and families coming in to meet him is always so magical. There are also hundreds of letters that are dropped off in the mailbox in front of his house.”

While Santa is in Alpena, his elves will work tirelessly in the workshops back home, making sure all of the presents are ready to go for Santa’s trek around the globe on Christmas Eve.

Because of that, the DDA and Santa need several volunteers to act as elves during his stay in Alpena and assist him with the kids and maybe snap photos for families.

“I’ve been an elf a few times when he’s in his house, and seeing children in awe of seeing Santa in real life truly embodies the magic of the holiday season,” Gentry said.

Anyone interested in lending Santa a hand can contact the DDA at 989-356-6422 or email Gentry at anneg@alpena.mi.us.

Because Santa was busy preparing for his trip to Alpena and getting things in order for the long journey on Dec. 24, he was unable to comment on his upcoming visit to Alpena.

A spokesperson for the big man in red said Santa is excited to visit Northeast Michigan, spend time with the children, and maybe stop at some of the local businesses to say hello to employees and holiday shoppers.

“Santa makes sure, every year, to circle a few dates on the calendar before Christmas to spend a few days in Alpena, because he absolutely loves it there,” the spokesperson said. “He looks forward to hearing what the children want for Christmas this year and to remind them, even if he isn’t in town, he knows if they are being bad or good.”

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