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Alaska Dispatch News
More than 300 students walked across the stage during UAA's first graduation in the Alaska Airlines Center on Sunday. It was the first graduation on campus since 1987, and first fall graduation in almost 30 years.   
Bob Hallinen
High school skiers compete in the Lars Spurkland Scramble cross-country ski race at Service High on Saturday, December 13, 2014. 
Loren Holmes,Zaz Hollander
To get from farm to fork, pigs at the Van Wyhe Family Farm travel more than 200 miles from the grassy reaches of Copper Center in eastern Alaska along the Richardson Highway to the urbane confines of Torchon Bistro in South Anchorage.
Loren Holmes

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With a few quick toots from the horn, this year's Alaska Railroad holiday train took off from the Anchorage depot on Saturday morning with scores of excited children and their parents in tow.As the train slowly made its way through town, a group of carolers started at one end of the eight-car train, while a troupe of balloon artists made their way from the other end.Adding to the excitement was Santa Claus himself, who visited each and every child during the 2.5-hour trip down Turnagain Arm.The holiday train is one of the Alaska Railroad’s many special event trains, which include a Halloween train, Easter train, and the ski train, among others, and it has been running each year for over a decade. This year approximately 1,700 people enjoyed the holiday train.Watch this video on YouTube and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos.Photos: Alaska Railroad's 2014 holiday train
Loren Holmes
With a few quick toots from the horn, this year's Alaska Railroad holiday train took off from the Anchorage depot on Saturday morning with scores of excited children and their parents in tow.
Mike Dunham
“Christmas Belles” goes a long way toward coaxing the jaded back into the spirit of things, and it does it with a smile. 
Tara Young

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The Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Ball started in 1980 at the Fairview Inn as a way to pass the time during the long, cold winter -- and bring women to town. The event grew to become a charity fundraiser and the Talkeetna Bachelor Society has become a service organization. Women come from many communities to bid on their very own rural Alaska bachelor.“We’re off the grid here, an end-of-the-road type town. The ratio of men to women, not so good,” says Evan Terstegge a 27-year-old Talkeetna bachelor. “This bachelor auction brings some fresh blood to Talkeetna. Brings some women up from Anchorage, Wasilla, from all over the state of Alaska.” A number of women travel up from the Lower 48 as well. “The bachelor auction is world-known,” says Terstegge.Last year's event was a record breaker, raising over $22,000 for charity. And this year was close behind, with 40 bachelors raising $20,420. The money gets divided between the Jessica Stevens Community Foundation and a grant program set up by the bachelor society to help people and organizations within the community.Terstegge, a lifelong Talkeetna resident, says the bachelor auction "was something I dreamed about doing since I was a kid growing up here -- I couldn't wait to turn 21. I always tell people I have to be married or dead to not attend. The Talkeetna bachelor party is by far the best party you'll ever go to."Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Wrestlers compete in the ASAA 2014 123A State wrestling preliminaries at Bartlett High School on Friday, December 12, 2014. 
Mike Dunham
The Sikuliaq, a state-of-the-art oceanographic research vessel operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is designed to work in Alaska waters, with limited ice-breaking capacity and a futuristic prop design that lets it maneuver in icy conditions. It hasn't arrived in its home state yet, but the director of UAF's Marine Center will give a "virtual" tour in Anchorage next week.
Alaska Dispatch News
Alaska's photographers explore the state with their cameras in our Best of December gallery for 2014. 
Loren Holmes

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When Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Hubbard found out she was coming home early after an eight-month deployment to Korea, she wanted to find a way to surprise her three boys: Kaylem, 3, Gage, 7 and Ethan, 9. So she put in a call to the big man himself, Santa Claus.With a little help from the Anchorage Firefighters Union, which she contacted from Korea via Facebook, she made it happen Tuesday afternoon.With mom hiding in a big red sack, Santa pulled up to Fire Lake Elementary in Eagle River atop a fire engine adorned with a giant sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer.When Santa asked Ms. Hubbard’s children what they wanted for Christmas, they all said they wanted their mom. He then told them to open the big red sack, and their eyes lit up at the sight of their wish come true.Watch this video on YouTube or Vimeo, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos.
Lisa Demer
Giant slabs of ice, dangerous areas of open water and little snow along the Kuskokwim River are challenging winter travelers as well as organizers of a big mid-distance sled dog race -- the Kuskokwim 300.

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