Like many other events this year, the annual Winter Carnival was not immune to the effects of COVID-19 in Alaska.
This year’s celebration will happen, but will look a little different, most notably in the absence of the traditional parade down Pioneer Avenue. That’s not going to be part of this year’s carnival, said Homer Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center Executive Director Brad Anderson.
The theme of this year’s Winter Carnival is “Celebrating with Gratitude.” The event takes place next weekend, from Feb. 12-14. The carnival is now in its 67th year. It took place as normal last year, just a few weeks before COVID-19 made an appearance in Alaska.
The Chamber had intended to hold the parade this year as well, Anderson said.
“We had some great ideas to kind of reverse roles and make it happen,” he said.
However, the carnival ended up falling on the same weekend as South Peninsula Hospital’s second mass vaccination clinic, in conjunction with the City of Homer and other Unified Command team partners. The clinic will require the time of many of the local fire department and emergency personnel the chamber usually relies on for traffic control at the parade, Anderson said. In the end, the time conflict paired with not enough participants led to the parade being taken off the table, he said.
Instead, the Chamber is encouraging businesses along Pioneer Avenue to host events and offer deals during the carnival weekend. Currently, NOMAR, Summit Physical Therapy, Homer Truffle Company and Guardian Flight are all hosting some kind of activity along Pioneer Avenue on Saturday, Feb. 13 for locals to enjoy. Anderson said that as more businesses come on board, the chamber will add them to the list.
Residents are encouraged to “shop, dine and play” in Homer on Friday, taking advantage of local restaurants and shops.
The much anticipated Ice Car Races will go on as usual this year. Since drivers won’t be able to show off the cars in the parade this year, the vehicles will be on display in the Spenard Builders Supply parking lot on Saturday, Feb. 13, before the ice races start on Beluga Lake.
The final day of the carnival falls on Valentine’s Day, and will feature Family Fun Day at the Wynn Nature Center, a Sweetheart Snow Machine Run being hosted by the Snowmads, and a Valentine’ dinner special at AJ’s Steakhouse.
Visit the chamber’s Facebook page, or the HOMEr-to-go Facebook page for additional deals, specials and events as the carnival gets closer. You can also get more specific information on carnival activities at the visitor center, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at 201 Sterling Highway, or by calling 907-235-7740.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.