This year, the Fourth of July falls on Saturday, which means some good news for celebrants on the lower Kenai Peninsula:
• Hey, you might get Friday off, too. City, borough, state and federal offices are closed Friday, as is the Homer Senior Center lunch.
• That makes the holiday a three-day weekend, and from Seldovia to Ninilchik, there’s lots to do every day. See schedule, pages 12-13.
• Cooling temperatures and a little bit of rain have decreased the fire danger enough that officials on Tuesday lifted the burn closure for campfires and charcoal barbecues. Yup, that means you can have a barbecue the ol’ fashioned way, with briquettes and maybe some alder chips for that extra flavor.
Don’t get cocky, kid, because even though the burn closure for campfires has been lifted, people should still burn safely. That means having water nearby to put out fires when you leave then, and burning responsibly on bare ground and away from combustible materials like driftwood and grass.
Oh, and the sale and use of fireworks is illegal on the Kenai Peninsula Borough. In Homer, popping off fireworks can mean a $300 fine, said Homer Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Painter.
“Please enjoy a safe Fourth of July without the risk of fire or injury from illegal fireworks,” Painter said.
Homer Police also will be enforcing fireworks law and responding to complaints. Call them at 235-3150.
In Homer, the big parade starting at 6 p.m. Saturday celebrates the rich history of our past and honors early pioneers, said Jan Knutson, Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center special events coordinator. The parade will feature as many pioneer families and elders as the chamber can find. Tepa Rogers, 84, the oldest living pioneer born in Homer, will ride in a 1941 Chevrolet. The Grand Marshall is Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove, born on July 3 just a few hours shy of the Fourth. He celebrates his 90th birthday while his grandson, Clem Tillion IV, celebrates his 19th birthday the same day.
Marie Walker, a former flight attendant with Wien Airlines, has pulled out four uniforms from different eras, and the chamber has recruited four women to wear them. Homer’s parade brings out the best and the silliest, like the Red Hot Mommas, who show that you can look great in XtraTufs at any age. There will be prizes for Best Group Adult, Best Group Children, Best Bicycle, Best Use of Theme, Best of Show, Best of Show Animal and Judge’s Sentimental Favorite, with all prizes paid in Homer Bucks.
The late start for the Homer parade allows people to have afternoon barbecues and then see the parade.
“We’re encouraging everybody to have barbecues at their homes or on their boats,” Knutson said. “That’s a traditional part of Fourth of July. Invited your neighbors. Have a block party.”
The late start also gives people a chance to double-dip for the Fourth of July, with parades in Anchor Point or Seldovia. In Anchor Point, the parade is at 1 p.m. on the Anchor Point Road — the road to the beach — and starts at the Silver King Campground. Anchor Point also has events on Saturday and Sunday at the VFW on Milo Fritz Road.
Seldovia’s parade is at 11 a.m. on Main Street, with the theme “Celebrate Healthy Living.” The Kachemak Bay Ferry and Rainbow Tours have added extra boat trips on Saturday, with boats returning in the early afternoon in time to make the Homer parade. You may want to make it a weekend in Seldovia, with events starting July 2 through Saturday. That’s what a lot of former Seldovians do, said Courtney Collier, co-chair of the Seldovia Fourth of July Committee. For many, the Fourth of July becomes a homecoming.
“You usually see high school buddies on the Fourth of July,” she said. “Everybody’s coming home to see their parents. It’s great. It’s a fun time.”
With the fire danger, Seldovia won’t be having fireworks and instead will have an explosion of color like at the Indian Holi Festival or the Color Run, Collier said. There will be a photo booth where people can throw colored powder in the air to get covered in rainbows.
Up the road in Ninilchik, the big event is the annual Ninilchik Rodeo at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds. Gates open at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with the Grand Entry at 2 p.m. The rodeo features bull riding, barrel racing, roping events and a calf scramble. The time and sequence of events varies depending on entrants, said fair executive director Lara McGinnis.
“It will start with a buck out and end on a buck out, that’s the one thing I can guarantee ya,” she said.
The weather forecast calls for sunshine on Friday with cloudy skies and a slight chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday. That won’t be enough to dampen hardy Alaskans’ spirits, but should ease worries about wildfires.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fourth of July fire danger status
Fire rating: Moderate to high
Allowed: campfires, charcoal barbecues, gas grills and open fires less than 3-feet in diameter. Fires must be on gravel, sand and other noncombustible surfaces, with 10-foot clearance from combustible materials like driftwood and a nearby water supply. Fully extinguish fires.
Banned: Debris pile burning and burn barrels.
Illegal: Sale or use of fireworks on the Kenai Peninsula. In Homer, there is a $300 fine for lighting off fireworks.
Fourth of July Highlights:
1 p.m. Saturday, Community Parade, Anchor Point Road, Silver King to Slide Hole campgrounds
6 p.m. Saturday,
Fourth of July Parade, Pioneer Avenue
Theme: Pioneer Times — Salute to Our Heritage
1 p.m. gates open, 2 p.m. Grand Entry, Saturday and Sunday
Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds
9 a.m. Saturday, Salmon Shuffle 5k run
10 a.m. Saturday, Arts and Crafts Fair
11 a.m. Saturday, Fourth of July Parade, Main Street