December 24, 2023

Dear Santa,

How are you?  I am fine. Welcome back to the Iron Range!

As one of your trusty elves, I am writing to give you some last minute directions as you cross the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota on Christmas Eve

First, we have a report from SABRINA ULLMAN, meteorologist at WDIO. She says a large low-pressure system to our south will bring rain throughout Minnesota. She adds, this could be the warmest Christmas Eve night on record, and we will likely see Christmas Day temperatures get close to record highs as well. Tonight, (12/24) Rain. Low around 33. Breezy, with a south wind 5 to 15 mph becoming north in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. I will let you know if there any big changes in the atmosphere.

The RANGE REGIONAL AIRPORT (HIB) in Hibbing, will be your first stop as the runway lights will help you get acclimated for your run across the Range.  HIB is a first stop for many folks coming into the Iron Range.  As always, they have free parking and great connections to MSP.  Also, while in Hibbing, stop by the SUNRISE BAKERY for some goodies, including some of your favorites, like Potica and Banana Flips. If you do not want “sweet” you can always stop by BOOMTOWN WOODFIRE. Or, you could return for their New Year’s Dinner with Lobster Ravioli, Surf & Turf & Prime Rib. As you depart Hibbing, go over the HULL RUST MINEVIEW, the view from your sleigh will be incredible. As you glide across the Range, you can follow the MESABI TRAIL from town-to-town, all the way to Giants Ridge. It will be a great path for you to follows as thousands of bikers use it to travel on bicycle. From Giants Ridge, you will look for the bright lights of Aurora and Hoyt Lakes.

2023 Ice Candle Celebration in Embarrass. Photo Credit Sheila Heikkila Vandervort.

As part of your flight plan, Chisholm, Buhl, Mt. Iron, Virginia, Biwabik and Aurora will be easy to find as you descend for landing as they all will be lit up with Christmas lights all across each of those towns.  They each have held Holiday Lighting Contests, but we know that it was really to help you locate each town for arrival.  The lights will be lit through the Holidays in those towns, so people can still enjoy them into the New Year. 

In Hoyt Lakes & Embarrass, the cemeteries will be lit up once again with their annual Ice Candles to honor those who will not be with us this year.  The Candles are beautiful and are such a great tradition to honor those who are no longer with us. CLICK HERE FOR A BLOG ABOUT ICE CANDLES

The Hoyt Lakes Water Carnival Committee invites you and Mrs. Claus to this year’s HOYT LAKES WATER CARNIVAL. They have won the SPIRIT OF HOSPITALITY AWARD for BEST EVENT on the Range, two years in a row. They invite you and Mrs. Claus to stop by for some waterskiing, live music and the parade. The Hoyt Lakes Relief Association would also like to thank you for Santa Night with the HOYT LAKES FIRE DEPARTMENT, on the 20th. If you need any assistance while on the East Range, they will be ready to help. The crew at THE HAVEN were wondering if that was you at their Ugly Sweater Party?

When you get to Aurora, swing by THE HIVE COFFEE & BAKEHOUSE.  Ericka & Rita will have some hot cocoa and some cookies set out for you to enjoy while you are in Aurora.  The folks at the AURORA CHAMBER want to thank you for a great AURORA HOLIDAY HERITAGE event, just a few weeks ago.  They thank you for stopping by when we all know how busy you are this time of year. The folks at RUDY’S BAR & GRILL are also wondering,if that was you at their Ugly Sweater Party? Do you like Ugly Sweater Parties, Santa?

Santa snowboarding at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

I ran into Honk the Moose in Biwabik, he says that GIANTS RIDGE is looking forward to a good winter season full of skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more!  So, the crew at Giants Ridge are hoping you will bring snow to the mountain.  You were just there snowboarding so you know the conditions. As the old song goes, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”  Honk also mentioned that the 40th annual WEINACHTSFEST was a successful event and thank you for the mild weather, Honk said he saw you chatting with folks that day. Rick at CARLSON PASTY & SAUSAGE KITCHEN plans to leave out some carrots for the Reindeer, too. He had some left over from making his scrumptious pasties. Prancer loves pasties!

Speaking of snow, the organizers at Laskianen are also putting in an order with you for good snow and pleasant weather for the annual LASKIANEN at LOON LAKE COMMUNITY CENTER, south of Aurora, on February 3rd & 4th.  This event has been happening for many years in the Town of White.  It is full of Finnish traditions. Do have some pea soup and ride a toboggan down the big hill onto the lake, those are Iron Range Bucket List items right there.

Embarrass will have pancakes at TIMBER HALL waiting for you.  They are known for their monthly Pancake Breakfasts and wanted to be sure you had some extra fuel to get through the night. The Grinch was there earlier this month, but this was after his heart had grown three sizes.

In Gilbert, stop by the WHISTING BIRD to warm up with that Jamaican vibe. The staff there would like to invite you and Mrs. Claus to come for a New Year’s dinner. On December 30th AND 31st, indulge in their New Year’s specials like lobster, jumbo tempura shrimp, and a couples’ feast featuring a 20oz ribeye and crab legs. Limited seating available, book your spot now! Also, stop by HORNE SEASONAL LIGHTING, Dylon has been out brightening up many places this year to help guide you across the Range on Christmas Eve. Leave him a little extra in his sock, please. He is truly, Santa’s Helper. Troy from THE ORE HOUSE told me they thought you were at their Ugly Sweater Party. I am seeing a pattern here.

The Grinch & Santa in Eveleth, right before the Grinch was detained by Eveleth Police.

The big news this past month was that the Eveleth Police Department arrested the Grinch.  The EVELETH FIRE DEPARTMENT & the EVELETH POLICE DEPARTMENT were collecting toys for the SALVATION ARMY when the Grinch was taken into custody. He was released the following day to do “Community Service” by serving pancakes at Timber Hall in Embarrass.

Hey Santa! Since you are in Eveleth, have you “checked” out the US HOCKEY HALL OF FAME & THE WORLD’S LARGEST FREE-STANDING HOCKEY STICK. It is a must see. I can’t imagine you will need any snacks, but if you do, THE RINK is a good place to stop, completing the hockey theme. They always have food specials and great drinks. The EVELETH ELKS said they thought they saw you at their Ugly Sweater BINGO. Were you there, too?

As you come into Virginia, you will fly over MINNESOTA’S TALLEST BRIDGE, the Thomas Rukavina Memorial Bridge. There are some beautiful views from up there… just East of town. In the Queen City, the organizers of the FESTIVAL OF TREES want to thank you for coming to the Pancake Breakfast. As you know, they served 400 people that day. Even with no snow, Festival of Trees was a huge success this year.  Through the Tour of Homes, Essentia was able to raise money to assist local people with cancer.  Just one of those Christmas Miracles. If you need a cookie break, stop by PEP’S BAKE SHOP on Chestnut Street. Laura and her crew will have some Yulekeke and potica waiting for you. If you are looking for that special old fashioned Christmas candy, swing by CANELAKE’S CANDIES. They have been making candy for several generations. You can’t go wrong. Try the Hot Air if you haven’t had it before. You do not need to leave a gift for the WORLD’S LARGEST FLOATING LOON. The Loon is currently on vacation in warmer climates, but will return this Spring. The IRON TRAIL MOTORS EVENT CENTER has been really busy with craft shows, hockey, and BUMP-N-SKATE. Those bumper cars on ice are a blast! Have you tried them, Santa?

Just last weekend, you were with the MT IRON FIRE DEPARTMENT for CANDY CANES WITH SANTA. The crew wants to thank you for going through town and to City Hall with them. The kids were excited to see you before your big trip. They got to eat candy canes and drink cocoa, which was served by the MIB SPEECH TEAM.

Right about now, you ought to be hitting Buhl. Its a small town, so be sure not to fly past it! This is actually the perfect spot to let the reindeer grab a quick drink from BUHL WATER. They claim to be the “Finest Water in America”, so only the best on Christmas Eve for Rudolph and friends. Blitzen loves Buhl Water!

2023 Bringing Light To Chisholm.

You are getting close to Hibbing again. Your last stop will be in Chisholm on this leg of your journey. With their BRINGING LIGHT TO CHISHOLM, it should not be hard to find. The whole town is lit up. Just before Thanksgiving, HOLLY JOLLY was also fun. The elves from JINGLE ALL THE RANGE had a booth and gave away candy canes at the MINNESOTA DISCOVERY CENTER. If you have time fly over REDHEAD MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK, the view is spectacular. So much recreation to do at this one place. Oh! The folks at 30 WEST also told me to tell you, that all those bikes your elves ordered for kids are ready to pick up. so you can deliver them!

Don’t forget to stop at the motels and hotels.  Some of those kids are afraid you won’t know where they are, so be sure to stop by the COMFORT INN of Mt. Iron/Virginia, the AMERICINN in Virginia, the SUPER 8 in Eveleth, the VILLAS AT GIANTS RIDGE in Biwabik, to name a few….

Members of the Hibbing Police & Fire Department. Each year they have a Toy Drive and make dinner for their recipients.

If you can, give a little extra to those who help others.  Folks like the Salvation Army and Area Food Shelf volunteers.  Lots of Ambulances were stuffed. All the Emergency workers who keep us safe still found time to run Toy Drives so no child goes without a present on Christmas.  Santa, you & I know those who give to help others are truly Santa’s elves in disguise.

CLICK HERE for a blog about the Hibbing Police & Fire Department and their annual Toy Drive.

Here is the link to NORAD as they track your flight tonight.  You can check it to be sure you are staying on schedule. NORAD will be monitoring the skies for you and give you current conditions as you navigate through the skies.  Thank you for all you do for our world every year, by keeping that Christmas Spirit alive…and joining in Ugly Sweater Parties?

By now you ought to be back to the Range Regional Airport in Hibbing. You will be aided by Traffic Control to connect to the MSP area.  Have a great flight, Santa.  Thank you for your Spirit of Hope and Hospitality. Here is to a hopeful and healthy 2024. You are clear for take-off!

Jingling all the Range…

Joy McJingles