No fireworks when the Sun is up 24/7 7 days a week
In the Lower 48s, a highlight 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!
Music and dance make forget the lack of fireworks
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.
Red-white-and-blue patriotic outfits of course
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.
Celebrating means more food options
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?
Patriotic outfit in midlife
Of course, I went for a red-white-and-blue look. Since we wanted to attend the celebration in Pioneer Park, I went for a casual, but posh look with a polo shirt, boyfriend jeans, and polka dot Keds. They are great on grass and uneven terrain and for standing long time in line.
What do you do on your National Day?
You can find more on Independence Day in Alaska at the link.
Focus Alaska is a series here on High Latitude Style featuring Alaska curiosa, lifestyle, wildlife, street style, weather, and insider travel tips.
Photos: G. Kramm, N. Mölders
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