Parnell family welcomes the community at holiday open house
Gov. Sean Parnell and First Lady Sandy Parnell invited the community into their home Tuesday for the annual Governor’s open house.
People sometimes try to engage the governor in political discourse after shaking his hand.
“You know, usually some will try, but there’s so many people trying to get through that most of them just wish us ‘Merry Christmas,’ or ‘Happy Holidays,’ and they head straight for the cookies on the table,” Parnell said.
24,000 cookies and 200 pounds of fudge and chocolate candies covered the dining room table. Guests grabbed a plate of cookies and moved to the living room to listen to live Christmas music.
The leftover cookies go to the fire department, police department and homeless shelters around town.
Sara Neal and her daughters have gone to the open house for four years.
“Oh it’s fun to see the mansion, to shake the governor’s hand, and of course, eat cookies,” Neal said.
The theme this year was “Polar Express,” and a toy railway sits next to a windowsill. A conductor punches a hole in children’s train tickets, which they trade for a bell once they leave the mansion. Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School students created gingerbread houses that lined the back wall of the dining room.
This is the centennial anniversary for the Governor’s home. The community has been invited to visit every year since 1912, with the exception of two during World War II. The Governor’s House Foundation was selling commemorative tree ornaments at the event to fund renovations.
The Parnell family was traveling while Capital City Republican Women volunteers put up most of the decorations. The Parnells themselves will decorate a family room upstairs for their own Christmas celebration.
“I have to say, our tree upstairs is not decorated yet. But it’ll get there,” Sandy Parnell said.
The governor’s family will celebrate Christmas in Juneau this year.