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North Pole bound

| November 23, 2022 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — “Otis, you made it to the North Pole!”

With that, the small boy beamed with delight.

“Yeah,” he said with a smile.

That seemed to sum up Tuesday night’s magical Journey to the North Pole with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises, now in its 25th year.

Sure, it was cold and rainy and dark early on, and the Grinch hurled his usual anti-Christmas rants. But miraculously, it began snowing as the boat arrived on the shores of Santa's workshop, where St. Nick himself and his little helper awaited with smiles and waves.

After some Christmas conversation and showing off his turbo–powered sleigh, Santa got down to serious business and read names on the nice list. The first ones belonged to brothers Henry and James Linder of Coeur d'Alene, and they were thrilled.

“I thought it was amazing,” Henry said.

Before leaving the North Pole, the boys and about a hundred other guests aboard a media kick-off cruise were treated to a spectacular show that included fireworks, a 70-tall floating Christmas tree animated to holiday music and multi-colored displays of reindeer and more coming to life.

The boat soon splashed back across the lake toward The Coeur d’Alene Resort, which itself is turned into a winter wonderland each Christmas.

This year, it features more than 50 trees, two nine-foot-tall nutcrackers, two life-sized Santas, 12 small nutcrackers, 35 wreaths, 30 elves, 100 woodland creatures, 100 presents, 200 snowflakes and more than 800 feet of garland.

The interior of The Resort has more than 20,000 pounds of holiday decor.

The exterior displays feature more than 1.5 million lights that take more than five miles of cable to run and two months to set up.

The commitment to Christmas has gained nationwide attention.

The Coeur d'Alene Resort Holiday Light was among USA Today's Readers' Choice 10 Best Holiday Lights in 2019.

Charlie and Katie Linder of Coeur d’Alene said taking The Journey to the North Pole Cruise is a family tradition. They enjoyed it as much as their sons did.

“It never gets old,” Charlie Linder said. “It’s always the best.”

While Henry and James Linder liked hearing from Santa, something else caught their imaginations - a mythical creature on The Boardwalk.

“The fire-breathing dragon was pretty good,” Henry Linder said.

Katie Linder loves that the Journey to the North Pole Cruise is family friendly and each year there seems to be something new.

“They’re always kicking it up a notch,” she said.

It also sets the spirit for the rest of the holiday season, Katie Linder said.

“It doesn’t really feel like Christmas until we go,” she said.

Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises and The Resort are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Journey to the North Pole Cruises with nightly trips across the lake until Jan. 2.

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Santa Claus and his helper greet guests at the North Pole that awaits across Lake Coeur d'Alene aboard The Journey to the North Pole Cruise from The Coeur d'Alene Resort.

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The Grinch yells as The Journey to the North Pole heads out Tuesday night from The Coeur d'Alene Resort.

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The lights of the North Pole shine bright during Tuesday night's Journey to the North Pole Cruise across Lake Coeur d'Alene.

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