Updated: December 13, 2021 Published: December 12, 2021
Outside Anchorage’s Turnagain Elementary School, the sound of giggling children tumbled from a horse-drawn sleigh. Soon the giggle turned to excitement all over his body when the children caught sight of Father Frost.
The Father Frost Russian Winter Festival is an annual event organized by the Mission is Russian Parents Group with support from the Parents’ Teachers Association at Turnagain Elementary. The event, Saturday, featured performances, games, food and sled dog meetings.
Father Frost, the Winter Queen, and Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden) listened as groups of children in the Anchorage School District’s Russian Immersion program sang in Russian and recited poems — a traditional act before receiving gifts from Father Frost. Volunteers Yevgeny Yagodin, Krystyna Cullom and Daria Stewart performed respectively.
The program is available to students at Anchorage’s Turnagain Elementary, Romig Middle School and West High School through a lottery program. The lottery opens for applications in January 2022.
Saturday’s event was just one of many during the year that aimed to raise awareness of Russian culture and traditions, said first-class teacher Olga Pustina. Pustina is also the chair of the MIR parent group.
People swallowed borscht (rose soup). Cups of hot chocolate warmed red-cheeked children as they ran around outside in their swollen winter jackets and snow pants.
Cullom helped guide the children through the Russian fairy tale about Father Frost.
Together, they shouted “Снегу́рочка” and “Дед Мороз” three times each, waving to Snow Maiden and Father Frost to join them.
Six-year-old Gatorian Houston, whose mother is Russian, held the microphone while he and his classmates sang a prepared Russian song. He did not miss a beat while his father watched with pride.
In the closing celebration, they all sat down and sang while circling a large ornate tree.
The new year is the most important time of the year for us, Cullom said as he took pictures with the kids after the celebration.