You knew this was coming, right?
While planning for my trip to Alaska this past August, I noticed that the city of North Pole was a suburb of Fairbanks, one of the stops on my driving tour of the 49th state. Needless to say, I set aside plenty of time to scour North Pole; I was determined not to leave without finding the welcome sign.
As it turns out, it was a surprisingly difficult sign to find. After navigating Snowman Lane, Kris Kringle Drive and Santa Claus Lane, I finally located the sign on St. Nicholas Drive. It was strategically placed in a gravel parking lot in front of a church, across the street from an uninviting Asian restaurant.
The sign seems like it was a reject from Santa’s workshop. The text is strangely uneven and, with the odd capitalization, somewhat difficult to read. The construction is probably the best feature of the sign – it seems that Santa’s elves are more adept at woodworking than calligraphy. I do like the candy-cane striping around the sign – a subtle, tasteful incorporation of the holiday theme. Interestingly, this is the first sign that I have encountered that includes a ZIP code.
Looking at the sign now, just a few days shy of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, I realize that the photo would make a greater impact if it had been taken in the winter, with snow on the ground and skeleton-like tree limbs in the background. Unfortunately, the lush green foliage doesn’t create the sense of place that one imagines when conjuring up images of the North Pole. I’ll try to make my next visit in season!