Whether you plan on camping over the weekend, celebrating with the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday or attending memorial services on Monday, don’t forget where Memorial Day gets its name.
“Let’s remember why we have this opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, the parks, that’s the important part,” said Roger MacCampbell, park ranger with the Alaska Division of Parks in Homer.
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day dates back to the Civil Way as a day to recall those who died in service of the United States. On the first Decoration Day, Gen. James Garfield spoke at Arlington National Cemetery and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. In 1873, New York was the first state to originally recognize the holiday. Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 set the holiday as the last Monday in May.
With that in mind, American Legion Post 16 in Homer, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10221 in Anchor Point, and American Legion Post 18 in Ninilchik invite the public to memorial services on Memorial Day, Monday.
Those services begin at Hickerson Memorial Cemetery on Skyline Drive above Homer at 10 a.m., followed at Anchor Point Cemetery at noon and at Ninilchik American Legion Cemetery at 2 p.m., according to Jennifer Henley of VFW 10221.
The newest addition to the weekend festivities happens from 2-6 p.m. Sunday in the NOMAR parking lot when the U.S. Coast Guard, in conjunction with the American 300 presents the Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour, to “salute and honor service.”
“The USO does a tour every year for branches of the military. This year they said they hadn’t done anything for the Coast Guard and decided to do an Alaskan tour,” said Jacinto Montez, marine science technician 1st class petty officer in Homer.
The tour features Nashville singer Lucas Hoge; Outlaw Annie Ellett, the world champion cowgirl, cowboy mounted shooting hall of fame; Maegan Ridley, Miss Wrangler National Patriot 2009 Miss Rodeo America; Kaycee Field, three-time world champion cowboy, current world champion bareback riding; and Jeff Chadwick, Wrangler Corporation western events and endorsee director.
There will be tents set up, Alibi’s sound system, American Legion Post 16’s mobile barbecue pit for burgers and hot dogs. And also there will be lots of give-aways.
While in Alaska, the tour also will make stops in Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan.
“We’re the spot for the Kenai Peninsula,” said Montez of the Homer happening.
Looking for a yummy hot breakfast? Stop at the Carol Bock Hall at the Ninilchik Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m.-noon and enjoy a volunteer-prepared hot breakfast that benefits Ninilchik Emergency Services.
Typically the volunteers serve 300-400 a day. Since Monday has become an increasingly slow day, NES has limited their cooking this year to Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, in Seldovia it’s the three-day, sixth annual Human-Powered Fishing Derby, organized, as in past years, by Tim Dillon. This year’s grand prize is a 22.5-foot, three-person North West kayak valued at more than $4,000. There also are prizes given for the largest salmon, halibut, gray cod and black bass, as well as an assortment of door prizes.
Human-powered is just what the phrase says. No engines, please.
“For the most part we get kayaks and row boats, but we see people in those paddle boats where two people sit side-by-side and pedal like a bike,” said Dillon. “And we get kids on homemade rafts.”
Dillon said the idea for the derby came from wanting to show people they could go right out of the Seldovia harbor and catch fish for dinner.
“The derby is a good way to do it. It’s working and it’s fun,” said Dillon.
The derby wraps up on Sunday with a fish fry at a new visitor pavilion built near the harbor. The fish comes from donations, the rest of the meal is potluck style. If you can’t bring a dish, a $5 donation is suggested.
While in Seldovia, catch a Saturday performance by Hot Club of Nanuka. Hear samples of the lively swing rhythms at hotclubofnanuka.com.
The southern peninsula offers a variety of indoor overnight accommodations, but if camping out suits your fancy, Alaska State Parks are open, as are the city of Homer parks. City campgrounds are $8 a night for tents and $15 for recreational vehicles, with weekly rates available. State campgrounds are $12 a night in most parks.
Both state and city parks are first come, first served.
“People cannot come in and set up a tent or leave a camper to reserve a site,” said MacCampbell of state campgrounds. “They have to occupy the camp site the first night they set it up.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.
Memorial weekend activities
for the southern Kenai Peninsula
• Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m.-noon
Pancake breakfast at Carol Bock Hall, Ninilchik fairgrounds. The menu includes pancakes, bacon, sausage, fruit, coffee and juice. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for youth, age 3 and under by donation.
• Monday, 2 p.m.
Memorial services at the American Legion Cemetery
• Saturday, 7 p.m.
Pool tournament, VFW Post 10221
• Sunday, 1 p.m.
Horseshoe tournament and picnic
• Monday, noon
Memorial services at the Anchor Point Cemetery
• Sunday, 2-6 p.m.
U.S. Coast Guard presents the Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour in the NOMAR parking lot. Bring a camp chair.
• Monday, 10 a.m.
Memorial Day services at Hickerson Cemetery, Diamond Ridge Road.
• Friday-Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, ending 4 p.m. Sunday
Human-Powered Fishing Derby. As in past years, the event is coordinated by Tim Dillon. The entry fee is $35 per person; weigh-in at 4 p.m. each day.
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
• Performance by musical group Hot Club of Nanuka.