Solstice Festivals

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Holy crap the week has rushed by, but I didn’t want to let it go without a chance to tell you about last weekend; because that would be missing out on what is a big day in the Alaskan calendar.

Most of y’all who read this know about the solstice and the effect on the days up here, but let me give those of you from Temecula a refresher.  Last Saturday marked the Summer Solstice, the time when the Northern Hemisphere is closest to the sun, and with that the days are the longest.  Because Alaska is so far from the equator, long days for us are LOOOONNGGG!!  Officially, our longest day this year was just over 19 hours between sun-up and sun-down – and with it still just below the horizon, there is no time during the night the sky gets completely dark.  As a joke, a local radio station gave the solstice weather as:  “Overnight will be Partly Sunny”.

We don’t do much in this town when the winter solstice comes, because quite simply it’s dark and its cold.  Summer Solstice, though, is one of the best weekends of the year.

The city puts on a big celebration.  The jewel of it all is the annual Mayor’s Marathon, a true 50K marathon that runs along the coastal trail to Kincaid park and back (detoured this year by a damaged bridge). I’ve known a couple people that have done the full marathon, but that’s outnumbered by those folks that get in a half marathon, or (what seemed to be all the rage this year) doing a relay half where people do 5 to 10K portions.  The marathon was met by a nice drizzle and occasional rain (which I spent sipping coffee in a nice coffee shop on the south side).

There is a fare downtown as well that runs through the weekend, plus events and games run by different groups in the park.

This year the city stepped up with a new thing, a free concert down by the Railroad Station, which basically meant the seating was all on a hill side – complete with a beer garden/drunk tank (guess where I sat).  The concert featured a known ’90s — but still very good — band called Spin Doctors. Complete with mosh pit full of 40-somethings.  If you want to know how that was, “just go ahead now”. (Get it?)

Anchorage is not alone either.  Towns and cities across Alaska do something for solstice.  Fairbanks is well known for their baseball game that starts at 10:30PM and runs well past midnight – and they never turn on the stadium lights.  I hear some places shoot off fireworks, which is basically a waste of money (ever seen fireworks during daytime?).  More often that not there is some overnight thing happening — and more often than not, it includes a little drinking too.

Thing about all this I wanted to get across is that celebrations take place.  In the Lower 48, solstice would pass with nothing more than a sarcastic comment about after going through three weeks of 100° weather you finally get to say it’s “summer”.  Here, it’s an event, a party, and one that is one of the most festive of the year.

So that may be why it took me almost a week to blog about it … took that long to get over the hangover.

 

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