In the Lower 48s, a central part of Independence Day is watching the fireworks after dawn. The kids and many adults are looking forward to watching colorful spirals, stars, and glimmer in the dark sky. Unlike in Alaska. If Alaskan would wait for a dark night sky for watching firework displays, Independence Day would last until mid August because of the midnight sun!
Despite there are no fireworks on the 4th of July, traditions exist that kids and adults alike look forward to. In Fairbanks, for instance, the celebration starts in Pioneer Park, a historic park dedicated to the Gold Rush time. Various bands including military, bluegrass and immigrant bands play music at different pavilions. There is even a bag-pipe troupe and a steel drum band. Local groups perform a variety of dances from folk dance, over middle eastern belly dance, Hawaiian and Polynesian dance, to swing dance, just to give you an idea about the diversity.
Volunteers distribute flags to locals and tourists alike. Kids swing the flags to the music. Parents end up schlepping their kids’ flags later in the day.
Of course, like everywhere in the US on Independence Day, the locals wear patriotic red-white-and-blue. Thus, the tourists – many of them from Germany as Condor has a direct flight Frankfurt-Whitehorse-Fairbanks-Frankfurt – are easily to be identified by their long sleeves, even when they wear jeans with a red top, and white sneakers or Birkenstocks. Some of the park rangers wear Gold Rush costumes.
While there are food booths in Pioneer Park all summer, on Independence Day local eateries join and have stands in the park as well. Elephant ears anyone? Alaskan beer-battered fried halibut? What about a reindeer burger? A taco salad? Thai food? Don’t forget to leave some room for a Hot Licks ice cream. Of course, you don’t order chocolate, but Prudhoe Bay. 😉
Kids love the old-fashioned coal-fired steam-engine train that circles around the park. The queue for getting on the train reminds me of the footage on West German TV about the shopping situation in the former GDR when I was a child. 🙂
A similar long queue exists for the merry-go-round that looks like a leftover from a 30s’ movie. Did I mention that the food booths have even longer queues?
What do you do on your National Day?
Photos: G. Kramm, N. Mölders (2015)
Copyright 2013-2015 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved