Two groups with competing messages gathered near Central Peninsula Hospital on Saturday — some to cheer on local health care workers, others to protest vaccine mandates and promote the use of alternative treatments for COVID-19.
About 10 people with the Many Voices advocacy group gathered on Binkley Street just a few blocks down from Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.
Susie Smalley, one of the organizers of the demonstration, said the group wanted to thank health care personnel for their work throughout the pandemic.
“For those of us who have been around a long time, we really appreciate (the hospital),” Smalley said.
Demonstrators held signs that said “We are grateful, we thank you health care heroes” and “You make a difference,” among other messages of gratitude.
According to the Many Voices Facebook page, the group advocates for diversity, justice and equality, and promotes a safer and healthier community.
Down the street, a group of several dozen gathered near the entrance of CPH on Marydale Street as part of the “Freedom Rally USA” event to protest COVID vaccine mandates and advocate for alternative treatments for COVID-19.
The freedom rally was promoted in a local Facebook event page “to show support for those whose loved ones have been denied alternative treatments” for COVID-19. The event page also noted that the event was being held “in solidarity” with similar rallies happening worldwide.
At Saturday’s rally, some Freedom Rally protesters held signs that said, “Trust natural immunity,” “No vaccine mandate,” “Not your subjects, not your lab rats,” and “Tyranny, do you see it yet?”
Multiple Freedom Rally demonstrators approached by the Clarion on Saturday afternoon declined to be interviewed.
CPH External Affairs Director Bruce Richards was unavailable for comment Saturday afternoon.