Carnival comes out of hibernation this weekend

Homer’s 69th annual Winter Carnival Celebration will kick off Saturday with a parade down Pioneer Avenue.

Themed “Breaking out of Hibernation,” the carnival follows two years of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic and will feature three days of activities Friday to Sunday.

Homer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brad Anderson said the goal of the carnival is to celebrate wintertime and highlight the town’s many cold-weather activities.

“In the wintertime, it’s especially important to get out and find ways to enjoy being a part of Homer,” he said. “We want to promote all of the activities available this time of year: the ski trails we have here, snowmachining. There is so much work that people put into building up the incredible facilities in town.”

This year’s carnival will feature ice racing going on at Beluga Lake, weather contingent, Anderson said, as well as a dodge ball tournament organized by the Homer Department of Recreation. Faith Lutheran Church will also host a chili cook-off event and a Homer Homebrewing contest will take place at the Bidarka after the parade. Homer Police and Fire Department will contribute services to parade needs on Saturday.

Randy Wiest, retired physician from the Homer Medical Center whom Commerce Board President Michael Daniel described as “about as winter as you can get,” will serve as this year’s grand marshal for the Winter Carnival.

“With our theme this year we just want to send the message to get outside and enjoy what Homer has to offer,”Anderson said, “His work with the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club and the Homer Rope Tow has made special opportunities for the whole community to enjoy and this our chance to recognize that.”

As of Monday, about 75 organizations and businesses had signed up to participate in the parade, which begins at Homer High School’s parking lot at noon.

The judging booth will be located outside of Bay Realty where emcee “Daryl” from AJ’s will announce details for the entrants to the observers. The chamber can still accommodate last-minute folks so there is still some flexibility if people are interested participating in the parade, Anderson said.

“We’re really just trying to get the community involved and get things moving again. This weekend will be fun and both of those upcoming events will be great, too,” Anderson said.

Emilie Springer can be reached