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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.
Associated Press
The Alaska National Guard provided transport for the good Samaritan program Operation Santa, which took gifts and school supplies to about 300 children in Shishmaref. 
Sean Doogan
Leisnoi Inc. sees a timber harvesting operation near Chiniak as a path to financial stability. But nearby homeowners say they're tired of the noise and the unsightly clear-cut land, and they're concerned it will lead to more logging in the area.
Marc Lester
Service High School hosted the Service Snowball Sprints, an interval-start race on the Hillside Ski Trails for Anchorage high schools on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014.
Marc Lester
About 120 people gathered in downtown Anchorage Saturday afternoon for a “Black Lives Matter” rally organized by the local NAACP Youth Council.
UAA and Bemidji State play to a 3-3 tie in WCHA hockey action on Friday evening, Dec. 5, 2014, at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. 

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