The Betster hopes you had a magical Christmas celebration and are looking forward to the coming New Year. If you’re hanging out at home — enjoying leftovers, playing with your new gifts, watching football or the daylight slowly increasing, and planning to stay in your pajamas for a while yet, good for you. If, on the other hand, you are in search of some fun and interesting activities and events to get you off your couch and out of the house, check out these Best Bets that will have you dancing, skiing, tapping your toes, gawking at the skies, and more! From the Homer News crew to you and yours, Happy New Year wishes as we bid farewell to 2022 and hello to 2023! Be safe out there!
BEST GET TO KNOW YOUR REFUGE BET: Curious about what critters live in Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet? It’s never too late, or early, to learn about the amazing marine life that surrounds us. The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is open and free to the public Wednesday-Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Bring the little ones out for the pre-K Puffins children’s program that will return this month on Thursday, Dec. 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This program introduces ages 2-5 to the marine sciences through craft, learning, and story time. Located in the Islands & Ocean Visitor Center at 95 Sterling Highway.
BEST LOCAL TED TALK BET: If you are familiar with Ted Talks, you know how enlightening and educational they can be, addressing a wide variety of topics. Stop by Grace Ridge Brewing on Thursday, Dec. 29, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and hear Homer’s very own Olympian, Tela O’Donnell Bacher share her Ted talk titled Grappling with Gender Inequality and discuss her future endeavors. 870 Smoky Bay Way.
BEST COMMUNITY JAM SESSIONS BET: A musician in the mood to jam? Homer Council on the Arts hosts their final Community Jam Session of the year on Thursday, Dec. 29, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Facilitated by Homer’s Cathy Stingley, this weekly session invites local musicians to bring their musical instrument and music to HCOA and join others in exploring a range of genres based on attendees’ interest. Light refreshments will be available and sessions will continue every week through spring 2023. 355 W Pioneer Avenue.
BEST LIVE MUSIC BET: Looking to enjoy some live, local music? Head to the Homer Senior Center’s Silver Linings Café for a little lunchtime entertainment on Friday, Dec. 30, noon to 1 p.m. with Homerites Sarah Firth and Aurora Fagan. Everyone is welcome and lunch will be available, $7.50 (55+) and $15 (54 and under). Meal includes soup, salad, entree, dessert and coffee, tea or juice. Reservations are not required, but are highly encouraged. Call 907-235-4555 to save your spot. 3935 Svedlund Street.
BEST DANCE INTO 2023 BET: Want to ring in the New Year dancing with friends, neighbors, and other community members? Make plans to go by SPARC on Saturday, Dec. 31 for a Contra Dance, 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Bring clean shoes or socks and dance the night away to the music of Homer’s Spit City Slickers, called by Homer’s Laura Patty and Dave Stutzer. This is a family-friendly, alcohol-free event and all are welcome. Event is free, but donations to help cover rental costs will be appreciated. 600 Sterling Highway.
BEST SO LONG 2022 FIREWORKS BET: If you love a good fireworks display, you will want to head to Mariner Park Beach on Saturday, Dec. 31 for the fifth New Year’s Eve Crowdfunded Fireworks Fantastical! Bring your own thermos of coffee or stop by the Captains Coffee Roasting Company food truck for drinks and snacks. The fun begins at 8 p.m. with fireworks set off at 8:18 p.m. Get there early for best parking and watch for parking/no parking signs. Don’t want to brave the roads or crowds? Catch the live stream on the event’s Facebook page, Homer’s FIFTH Crowdfunded New Year’s Eve Fireworks FANTASTICAL. You can also tune in to K-WAVE 104.9 FM for a commercial free, live radio music soundtrack full of rowdy hits from yesteryear to today. If heavy winds, rain or snowfall make an appearance, fireworks will be delayed. Want to contribute to the cost of the fireworks? Donate at paypal.me/WeisserFireworks. Mariner Park Beach is at the base of the Homer Spit Road.
BEST FIRST DAY SKI BET: If spending New Year’s Day outdoors hitting the local trails sounds fun, make your way to Eveline State Recreation Area on Sunday, Jan. 1 at noon for the annual First Day Hike, Ski and Snowshoe. Sponsored by Alaska State Parks and the Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park, all are invited out for an easy, guided hike, snowshoe or ski around the Eveline trails. Bring your own skis or snowshoes, and a water bottle. Hot drinks and snacks will be provided. A $5 donation is requested. Mile 13.8 East End Road.
BEST KNOW YOUR LANDS BET: Looking to learn how to better your gardens and soil in the coming year? Know Your Land talks return in 2023, taking place at Kachemak Bay Campus every other Thursday beginning Jan. 5 with “How the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Can Help Build Your Farm” 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Pioneer Hall. This free series is brought to you by the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, the NRCS, and KBC and is a free bimonthly series designed to help Alaskans understand and improve their gardens, soil, and other aspects of working with and caring for their lands. 533 E Pioneer Avenue.
BEST LOCAL AUTHOR READING BET: Come out and support one of Homer’s own writers, Tom Kizzia, author and reporter, as he speaks at Alaska Professional Communicators first meeting of the year. During his 25-year career as a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Kizzia traveled widely in rural Alaska and was named 2022 Historian of the Year by the Alaska Historical Society for his latest book, Cold Mountain Path. Kizzia will speak at noon on Thursday, Jan. 5. Attend by Zoom (email firstname.lastname@example.org for link) or in person in Anchorage at a Live Luncheon at Inlet Tower Hotel and Suites, Fireside Room, 1020 W 12th Ave. RSVP online at https://akprocom.org/rsvp-for-monthly-luncheons/, by email to email@example.com or call 907-274-4723 and leave a message, including a phone number where you can be reached. When calling or sending an email, please include how many people are coming and their names. Make lunch reservations by noon, Tuesday, January 3, 2023. Members: $28 Guests: $32.