Pandemic prompts scaled back Christmas tradition in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Operation Santa Claus looked a little bit different this year in rural Alaska as COVID-19 safety precautions pared back the annual Alaska National Guard tradition. Normally, the Guard and Salvation Army travel to two or three largely Alaska Native villages to deliver Christmas gifts during a party overseen by Santa and Mrs. Claus. But this year, the Guard delivered boxes of gifts to the runways in Stevens Village, Birch Creek and Nanwalek. From there, locals picked up the gifts and delivered them to homes around town. David Kriska is the first chief in Stevens Village. He said it was nice the organizers reached out and wanted to do something for the village of about 30 residents.