PUBLISHED: 4:03 PM on Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Public enjoys holiday tradition of Governor's annual open house
The governor's mansion bustled with the Christmas spirit on Friday, Dec. 14, as people from the Juneau community lined up to join the festivities.

The mansion was beautifully decorated with lights and garlands threaded with ribbons. Holly berries of red and silver adorned the chandeliers, archways and doors.

Seventeen nutcrackers of various sizes and origins stood sentinel on a wood hutch and two life-size stood guarding the door to a room with a long table holding hundreds of cookies.

Governor Sarah Palin stood to meet and greet the people in the community that she so lovingly serves. As she shook the hands of numerous people, her Christmas light-bulb necklace lit up red causing smiles to flash across many faces.

As to her favorite part of the open house Jackie Stewart said, "Shaking the governors hand and seeing her in the mansion. We are so pleased that she's here and that she's our governor." Her son Avery Stewart said his favorite part is the "cookies."

In the Christmas tree room five young musicians let their clarinets and saxophones fill the ears of those in the mansion with classy holiday tunes, next to a tree done up with multicolored lights and shiny ornaments that twirled the imagination of many into memories of Christmas fantasies.

Photo by Lee Leschper
  First gentleman Todd Palin greets a visitor of the Governor's mansion Friday, Dec. 14, as daughter Piper and Governor Sarah Palin look on. For more photos, go online to
Jamie Bursell has been bringing her boys to the governor's mansion almost every year since 1996. Nick, 13, and Zack 14, have been getting their picture taken with the governor every year since they were about 3 and 4.

"I like the decorations, I get ideas for my own decorating that way and its always fun to see the governor too," Bursell said.

"Last year we were in line about an hour and a half, this year I took them out of school early and we got right in," Bursell said. Her sons Nick and Zack both said their favorite part of the open house is the "cookies," which they said through mouthfuls of cookie crumbs.

"And they got to see Willow, one of the governors daughters," their mom added, "They knew her from being in the same grade and haven't seen her in about a year and a half."

When in the mansion during this time of year one thing is for sure, whether it be the winter village window with trains and miniature skiers in a winter wonderland, the 15 gingerbread houses made by middle school students, or the cookies, it will put a smile on your face.