Telling Alaska’s Story: Visit from Star the reindeer, Santa is annual tradition for students at Inlet View Elementary

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 5:48 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The temperature is hovering near zero but that doesn’t quell the excitement of a group of kindergarteners and first graders rushing out the door of Inlet View Elementary School to see who’s waiting outside. As promised, Albert Whitehead is there with Star, his pet reindeer.

It’s an annual tradition Whitehead has maintained for at least the last decade — introducing Star to the youngest children at the school and bringing Santa along for a surprise visit. Whitehead said he looks forward to it all year.

“But just seeing the kids, their faces light up when they see Star,” he said. “And then Santa Claus suddenly appears — it’s like, oh man, that’s a memory you’ll have forever.”

The visit includes an “inspection” by Santa to make sure Star is in good shape to fly, lest his services be needed on Christmas Eve. Santa explained to the children that Star is his back-up reindeer if Rudolph or Comet get sick. Fortunately, the 5-year-old reindeer passed with flying colors.

Children also had a chance to ask some questions such as: Why are Star’s feet so wide?

Answer: To better stay on top of the snow.

Or: How do reindeer fly?

Answer: They’re magic. On Christmas Eve with Santa Claus, it’s magic.

Maybe that’s all we need to know.

At the end of the visit the excited children ran back inside their warm school, but before they did, they made a promise to Santa. He asked them to be good and kind to each other and left them with a “Ho, ho, ho.”

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