Where I grew up, in the Midwest, if there were solstice celebrations, I was unaware of them. However, here in Alaska, celebrating the summer and winter solstice is a much bigger deal. This is for the obvious reason that the solstices have a real effect on every day life here.
In Anchorage today, on winter solstice, sunrise is at 10:14 am And sunset happens at 3:41 pm. This gives us a total of just under 5 and a half hours of “daylight.” This “daylight” is a very poor imitation of real daylight. I would compare it more to twilight.
The more north you travel from Anchorage, the darker it gets. In the town of Barrow, the most northern city in Alaska, they experience up to 67 days without sunlight beginning in November and ending in January. To make up for their bleak winter, during the summer, Barrow enjoys over 80 straight days of sunlight.
Last Sunday, December 16th was the third annual Solstice Tree Tour. It is a free event held each year at Anchorage’s Kincaid Park. During this event decorated trees can be found along the first 2.5 k of the Mize Loop trail. This trail is normally reserved only for skiers. However, for this event it is opened to skiers, those on foot, as well as children being pulled in sleds.
The Solstice Tree Tour is presented by the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage and is an event where local businesses sponsor a tree along the Mize Loop trail at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. The businesses decorate their tree and event goers can vote for their favorite at the end of the trail. The winner of the tree tour wins a 1/4 page color ad in the Nordic Skier publication. This year there were a total of 45 decorated trees. The winner of the 2018 Solstice Tree Tour was Childrens Hospital at Providence, followed by Alaska Rock Gym and Alchemy Orthotics and Prosthetics. My favorite tree was sponsored by The Horn Doctor. It had real musical instruments hung in its branches.
In addition to the beautiful trees, many sponsors were handing out hot chocolate, coffee, other beverages, and s’mores. We were also given bacon, cookies, candy, and a piece of cinnamon roll!
Jasper enjoyed looking at the trees. However, his favorite parts of the tour included the tunnel of lights, the “drive in” theater, the colored ice blocks, and the bacon. As I pulled him along in his sled, he ate his bacon and kept saying, “I love bacon… I LOVE bacon!”
It was a beautiful event, made even more special by the fact that it snowed the whole time we were there!
For more information about this event visit: https://www.anchoragenordicski.com/solstice-tree-tour/