Fairbanks’ New Year’s fireworks at 00 EST

In Fairbanks the NYE firework starts at 8pm

Traditionally, Fairbanks has their New Year’s firework at 8 pm Alaska Standard Time which is Eastern Time minus four hours. This means the Fairbanksans watch their fireworks at the same time as the people on the East Coast. No, in Fairbanks the clocks don’t tick differently than anywhere else in Alaska.

The fireworks are on the West Ridge of the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. This location allows Fairbanksans to well watch it from home when they live in the University Hills, on the hills of Goldstream, and many places along the Chena River, Chena Ridge, and College. We can see them from our living room.

At locations close to the Arctic Circle, celebrating New Year’s with the classic display is a challenge for various reasons; and they are quite different from those why there are no fireworks in Fairbanks, Alaska on July 4.

"University of Alaska, Fairbanks" by Mozul is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“University of Alaska, Fairbanks” by Mozul is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Why at 8 pm?

Those people who don’t have the opportunity to watch the fireworks from the warmth of their homes have to go out in the cold. You can’t stand for 30 minutes in the cold of the night at -10F ( -23.3oC) or even colder than that. Thus, people drive towards places where they can watch the fireworks from their car. They park along side roads that are parallel to campus or allow a good view on campus. They are idling their cars to keep the heating running. They are sitting wrapped in blankets over big puffer coats and Sorel boots with extra socks in their cars watching the show. Once the spectacle is over, Fairbanks faces its biggest traffic jam of the year. Everyone is heading home or to where they want to spend the rest of the time of the year.

In clear winter nights, radiative cooling leads to strong heat loss to space. Thus, temperatures near the Earth’s surface drop fast. This means it will be much colder four hours later when the New Year starts than at 8 pm. This means that the poor fire(wo)men would have to handle the fireworks at even lower temperatures. Recall that at these freezing temperatures every metal you touch with bare hands freezes to your skin. To handle the equipment you need gloves. However, at these low temperatures, your fingers get quickly cold when you wear gloves instead of mittens.

Another reason is the audience. Cars are not built to provide an insulation from the cold outside. They loose the heat fast thru the windows and metal frame. Thus, when the car heating is not able to replace the heat as fast as the car looses it to the outside environment, the air in the car is chilly despite of the heating running. Also people most likely do not wear their typical Alaska clothes, but what to wear for New Year’s Eve.

Thus, why not earlier?

Many people drive into town for dinner on the last day of the old year. Typically dinner reservations start at 6:30 pm or so. Thus, people can check out just in time to find a great spot along the road to watch the display after dinner. Most dance or New Year’s Eve parties and entertainment do not start before 9 pm. Thus, people can come to town early to watch the fireworks and then go to where ever they want to party.

However, another important reason is that people should not drink and drive. Thus, an early start keeps the roads safer than a firework at mid-night.

A random benefit of the early time

I assume the following benefit was not included when the organizers picked 8 pm for the fireworks years ago. The closer the time of the fireworks comes to about 6 am, the higher is the likelihood that the zinc, copper, sulfates, toxic gases, and who knows what else is captured in the near-surface layer by a strong inversion and contribute to Fairbanks’ air-quality problem. Recall night time minimum temperatures occur around 6 am local time.

Outfit of the day with pink sweater

I am wearing my tweed skirt with a berry pink sweater. I really love the combination of gray and pink lately as you can see also in my post on how to wear pink over 40. I went for a classic vibe with gray tights that have a flannel inside and gray slouchy boots that permit an extra pair of socks.

Pink and gray are a fool proof, ageless color combination. #timelessstyle Click To Tweet

details of the layering of clothes

midlife blogger in posh chic winter office outfit with dust pink sweater and gray skirt

style blogger with gray, white pink plaid blanket scarf over a coat
Outfit details: GNW Luxe wool cashmere sweater, Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, GNW tights, Vince Camuto suede boots, unbranded plaid cape worn over a Vittoria shearling, hat and 3.1 Philip Lim (all own)

To enhance the insulation from the cold ambient air, I wrapped a light gray with pink and white blanket scarf around my gray shearling coat for my outerwear outfit. The white in the plaid pattern picks up the white of the hat. The fuchsia bag matches as fuchsia is just another shade of pink.

Do you wear pink in winter?

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Photos: G. Kramm

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