You know that saying it isn’t over until somebody sings? Well, whoever said it must have been talking about the 2014 Homer Winter Carnival.
When an unexpected storm slammed Homer last Friday, organizers for this year’s festivities — Dax Radtke and Dean and Genny Miller — made a last-minute change of plans and rescheduled the opening ceremonies including a community sing of the “Alaska Flag Song” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” for 7 p.m. this Saturday.
“There’s nothing more Homer than having opening ceremonies at the end,” said Radtke at the time.
Nor is there anything more Homer than having another quick shift in the weather, with Saturday dawning bright and clear and the southern peninsula sparkling with new snow. Perfect for all the wintry events planned, including the parade and an outhouse race along Pioneer Avenue and snowmachine races for youngsters at the Homer High School parking lot.
The theme of this year’s carnival was “dancing in the streets.” It was organized as an avenue for giving local nonprofits and charities a financial boost, with events and prizes benefiting specific organizations.
The fun actually kicked off on Thursday with the three-day Homer High School Winter Carnival Basketball Tournament and the three-day Regions III Hockey Tournament at the Kevin Bell Arena (see related stories, page 14).
It also was marked by the Mr. Homer Pageant, a popular activity resurrected from carnivals past and held in the Mariner Theatre.
“People couldn’t pull themselves together they were laughing so hard,” said Genny Miller.
Contestants included Jim Hornaday, Stephen Bishop, Colby Steward, Jerami Youngblood and Lucas Thoning.
When asked what historical Alaska figure he would want with him if he were lost in the woods, Thoning delivered an attention-getting reply.
“He said, ‘Oh that’s easy, I’d want Clem Tillion.’ And then he went into an impersonation of Clem that was spot on,’ said Miller of Thoning’s ability to transform himself into Tillion, a former state senator and well-known Halibut Cove resident.
Thoning won the Mr. Homer crown and a cash prize of $400 for the charity of his choice, the Homer Cycling Club. Youngblood was first runner up and gave his $200 prize to HoWL. Stewart, second runner up, donated his $100 prize to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Hornaday was competing to win funds for the Homer Community Food Pantry and Bishop joined the competition to benefit the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.
Chris Story was the evening’s emcee; music was provided by Robert Toner, “A Boy Named Sioux;” Rob Downey of the SVT Health and Wellness Center, his daughter Marlena and former Mr. Homer Paul Hodgdon served as judges.
“It was a very, very fun night,” said Miller.
On Saturday, Mr. Homer put in an appearance in the parade, an event sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center and Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. Four prizes were awarded:
• Best nonprofit, $400 in Homer Bucks: Krewe of Gabrinus;
• Best individual or family, $200 in Homer bucks: Smallpond Childcare;
• Best for-profit, $125 in Homer bucks: Zumba of Homer;
• Judges’ choice award, $125 in Homer Bucks: Homer Head Start.
Mr. Homer was next seen at the home-brew competition at the Best Western Bidarka Inn, where he was kept busy serving beverages.
“It’s all about a being a servant of the people,” he said of his new royal role.
The outhouse race, another carnival event from years gone by, drew lively competition, with the Best Western Bidarka Inn Otter Room’s fast-moving crew crossing the finish line first.
“The Homer Winter Carnival gave them $200 for the charity of their choice and they chose Hospice of Homer,” said Miller.
American Legion Post 16 took second place. NOMAR won the “most awesome outhouse” award, Kharacters was recognized for “craziest crew,” and the Otter Room also was noted for having the best strategy that included throwing toilet paper at their competitors during the race.
“We cannot say enough about how awesome our competitors were,” said Miller. “Your energy, imagination and creativity caused a ‘fun explosion’ in the middle of town.”
Noted for its absence was the Elks’ entry.
“They had to default because their outhouse team had been up plowing snow for the parade,” said Miller.
When it appeared Homer wouldn’t have enough snow to support a planned snowshoe softball game, Mike Illg reorganized his fundraising effort benefiting the Children’s Tumor Foundation as an indoor wiffle ball tournament. Five teams turned out and gave Illg’s CTF fundraising effort a $260 boost. He will continue his fundraising by running in the 2014 Boston Marathon in April. To learn more about Illg’s effort, visit leosheroes.org. He also is accepting donations from business owners who want to have their business name printed on the special shirt Illg is having made for the marathon.
“I’m not going to be the fastest runner, so it won’t be a blur and people will be able to see the shirt,” he said.
The success and interest stirred by the wiffle ball tournament has Illg, who coordinates the city’s Community Recreation Program, considering the future of wiffle ball in Homer.
“I’m hoping to use it as a possible kick-off or maybe an indoor wiffle ball league, something regular,” he said of continuing the sport.
The Snomads held off any last-minute changes in their planned snowmachine races for five-, six-, seven- and eight-year-olds, a decision that paid off for Corbin Arno of the snowmachine club.
“We have wheel attachments so they can be ridden on pavement,” said Arno, thankful he hadn’t made the switch. With Saturday’s covering of fresh snow, the races proved a success, drawing a crowd of youngsters and photo-taking family members.
Nichol Essex received a prize package valued at $250 for accumulating the most variety of HWC buttons. The package was made possible by Sea Glo Skin Care and Cosmetics, AK Motor Sports, Don Jose’s, Homer Brewing and Stay Tan. Donna Brock Schmidt had the second most button variety and was awarded a $120 gift certificate to AJ’s Oldtown Steakhouse.
Awards were given at a presentation party at the Down East Saloon on Sunday afternoon.
The only thing left is the closing ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Mariner Park. There will be a bonfire, fireworks and the racing outhouses on display. The public is asked to bring a log to throw on the fire.
And, of course, there will be singing, bringing the 2014 Homer Winter Carnival to an official end.
“You’ve seen the Olympic opening ceremonies. … It’s the same stuff, only ‘Homerier,’” said Radtke.