After taking a quake break, Eagle River’s holiday hullabaloo returns Friday

Thursday, December 5, 2019 - 14:01
  • Santa Claus, left, and exchange student Isabella Cerri light the Christmas tree during the Winter Wonderland Celebration in Town Square Park Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth) Santa Claus, left, and exchange student Isabella Cerri light the Christmas tree during the Winter Wonderland Celebration in Town Square Park Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Nothing can stop the Merry Merchant Munch and Winter Wonderland celebration from returning to Chugiak-Eagle River. At least, that’s what the local chamber of commerce is promising.

“We are having Merry Merchant Munch no matter what,” said Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber executive director Debbie Rinckey during the chamber’s biweekly lunch forum last month.

The annual event was canceled last year after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the area on Nov. 30.

But Rinckey said a full slate of food and fun is planned for Dec. 6-7 in downtown Eagle River.

“It’s going to be a great time this year,” she said.

This year’s event will kick off with the Merry Merchant Munch on Friday, Dec. 6, from noon to 5 p.m., with dozens of local businesses competing in a variety of categories, including Best Holiday Tree, Merriest Merchant, Spirit of the Season, Tastiest Treats and Hometown Holiday. Participants can visit each business, picking up a tasty treat at each location and punching their “Munch Punch” cards for a chance to win prizes. The festivities continue Saturday, with more Munch open houses from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Punch cards and “Munch Maps” are available in the Merry Merchant Munch and Winter Wonderland Guide, which was published in the Nov. 28 Star and is also available at Much stops.

Rinckey said nearly 50 businesses have signed up to participate.

Following Friday’s open houses, the Winter Wonderland and Community Tree Lighting Celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Town Square Park. This event will feature everything from school choirs singing Christmas carols to horse-drawn sleigh rides and a visit from Santa Claus (and his reindeer). There will also be cookies, hot drinks and warming fires to keep folks festive and warm. The community tree-lighting will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, followed by Santa’s arrival.

For more information on the event, visit the chamber’s website at cer.org.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Merry Merchant Munch and Winter Wonderland

WHERE: Downtown Eagle River businesses and Eagle River Town Square Park

WHEN: Munch is Friday from Noon to 5 p.m., Winter Wonderland starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with a tree-lighting and visit from Santa at 7 p.m. The Munch open houses continue Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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