Gov. Mike Dunleavy greets visitors to the annual holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday. Hundreds of people indulged in cookies and music by local students during the three-hour event. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy greets visitors to the annual holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday. Hundreds of people indulged in cookies and music by local students during the three-hour event. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Cookies, carols and quizzes for Christmas

How the governor’s holiday favorites compare to his constituents visiting his annual open house.

Tami Malloy was waiting outside the governor’s mansion for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon before the front door opened for the annual holiday open house and her first since the COVID-19 pandemic. But that meant she was first in the door to meet the just-reelected governor under holiday decor at the entrance, and get her fill of the nearly 20 cookie and fudge varieties on the long dining table further inside.

“I like being able to meet the governor,” said Malloy, a Juneau resident for the past 29 years attending her third open house, noting she met former chief executives Sean Parnell and Bill Walker at the others. “It’s great being able to meet his staff. The house is beautiful.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and First Lady Rose Newlin, along with newly elected Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom and her husband Kit, greeted hundred of visitors during the three-hour open house also featuring many senior administration officials, as well as local political leaders. Christmas songs were performed by rotating groups of students from Juneau Alaska Music Matters, while helpers passed out hot cider and cookies to the crowd gathered outside.

Dunleavy, barely a month past campaign season, also got hit with a lighting round of questions by the media just before the beginning of the open house to see how much he shares in common with his constituents when it comes to his holiday agenda.

The rapid-fire Q&A

Favorite holiday movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Favorite holiday TV special: “Bob Hope Christmas Special”

Favorite holiday song: “Silent Night”

Favorite holiday cookie: Chocolate chip

As for how Malloy matched up: Movie: “A Christmas Carol”; TV: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; song “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem”; cookie: Russian tea cake.

Shakira Vallejo, a lifelong Juneau resident who was among the first at this year’s open house with her daughter, Gabriela, 7, said it’s been an annual event since she was a little girl herself. She said it seems largely the same as many years ago, with one notable change.

“Now, there’s a lot more cookies,” she said, as both her plate and her daughters were filled with a wide sampling of sweets.

Her lightening round answers: movie: “A Christmas Story”; TV: “Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer”; song: “Jingle Bell Rock”; cookie: “snickerdoodle.”

New to the experience were Sharon and John Johnston, who moved to Juneau from Spokane during the past year. He said he’s walked by the governor’s house many times and heard the holiday event was being hosted after disruptions during the pandemic, feeding their interest.

“We wanted to come in and meet the governor,” she said, adding they’ve never attended a similar event at their previous homes in Washington and Florida.

Sharon Johnston said their daughter is a longtime Juneau resident so it won’t be the couple’s first Christmas in Alaska, but they will continue with their traditional family celebration in their new home, which happens to include making a lot of date-nut balls as her favorite holiday cookie.

As for the rest of the lightning list: Movie: “A Christmas Story”; TV “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; song “Silver Bells.”

See photos from the event below

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

Shakira Vallejo and her daughter Gabriela select from nearly 20 cookie and fudge varieties at the governor’s annual holiday open house on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Shakira Vallejo and her daughter Gabriela select from nearly 20 cookie and fudge varieties at the governor’s annual holiday open house on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People line up outside the governor’s mansion on Tuesday for the annual holiday open house. The weather was seasonably cool, but without the heavy wind and precipitation of a day earlier. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Shakira Vallejo and her daughter Gabriela select from nearly 20 cookie and fudge varieties at the governor’s annual holiday open house on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Students from the Juneau Alaska Music Matters program perform Christmas songs during the governor’s annual holiday open house Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Students from the Juneau Alaska Music Matters program perform Christmas songs during the governor’s annual holiday open house Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A long table offers nearly 20 cookie and fudge varieties to visitors at the governor’s annual holiday open house Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A long table offers nearly 20 cookie and fudge varieties to visitors at the governor’s annual holiday open house Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A helper offers hot cider to people waiting outside to get into the governor’s annual holiday open house Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A helper offers hot cider to people waiting outside to get into the governor’s annual holiday open house Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Greeters pass out cookies to people waiting outside during the governor’s annual holiday open house on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Greeters pass out cookies to people waiting outside during the governor’s annual holiday open house on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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