Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 5:03 PM on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Snow or rain, it will be perfect weather for Winter Carnival

BY Hal Spence
For the Homer News

Winter Carnival Events

Homer's annual February celebration of winter kicks off this weekend, though recent weather patterns may have made of its name a bit of an understatement.

Homer "Winter" Carnival lacks punch. Maybe we should rename it the "Homer 'STOP BEING WINTER, ALREADY!' Carnival," given that we're all digging from beneath the powder produce of back-to-back-to-back blizzards and slipping on the wet and ice of this week's heat wave. Regardless of the name, it's time to boldly face the elements, enthusiastically embrace our whitened world and enjoy four days of fun and festival.


The annual city-wide party began modestly in 1956. It has always engaged residents and often drawn visitors from other parts of Alaska.

This year's theme is Play, Play the Homer Way, a way of showing support for the Homer Playground Project, called HoPP, which will rebuild and expand the children's playground area at Karen Hornaday Park.

"We wanted to recognize the work already done and the work to come, and Play the Homer Way was a good slogan," Chamber Director Monte Davis said. Like "a barn-raising," Davis said HoPP was the essence of community involvement and cooperation that would attract residents and visitors alike. "It's good for everybody."

Miranda Weiss, one of those behind HoPP, said the group is planning to replace the existing equipment with new equipment and expand the play area 30 percent. Designers came to Homer last fall, met with residents and even used ideas submitted by students to draw up new plans. A fundraising effort that hopes to garner $220,000 already has raised more than than $72,000. The Homer Parks and Recreation Commission has recommended the city contribute $50,000, Weiss said. The Homer City Council will consider that expenditure later this month.

Weiss said the group behind the park project wanted to make it as visible as possible during the carnival and has a commitment from a Mat-Su borough couple to bring a car-sized replica of a Radio Flyer red wagon to take part in the parade in support of the project.

A long list of events is planned. A complete schedule is printed on pages 12 and 13. Here are a few highlights.

Why not start celebrating with the carnival's prime sponsor, the Homer Chamber of Commerce, at its mixer today from 5-7 p.m. at Two Sisters. Appetizers, door prizes and more will help us all get in the spirit for a weekend party.

Festival days would be a fine time to visit Homer's many art galleries. Picture Alaska Gallery and Upstairs Boutique on Pioneer Avenue is holding a winter carnival balloon party starting at 11 a.m. on today, Friday and Saturday.

Choreographer and director Jocelyn Shiro-Westphal presents a Jazzline dance performance at the Mariner Theater on Friday evening starting at 7 p.m. Two more shows are set for Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The Homer Winter Carnival Bazaar at AJ's Old Town Steakhouse & Tavern is a perfect place to find that special Valentine's Day gift, and a few blocks away, the Pratt Museum will host its "Free Family Day."

Be sure to make time to find your best vantage point along Pioneer Avenue at noon Saturday for the Winter Carnival Parade, and when you're done, and if you're not too desperate by then for the sauna, drive out to the Kevin Bell Arena for free ice skating from 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Other chamber-sponsored events include Wells Fargo's Free Kid's Activity Day, Ice Racing on Beluga Lake, the Annual Paul Banks Elementary School Winter Carnival, and an ice-cycling event also on Beluga Lake.

The Home Brew Contest continues a long-time tradition at which local brewers offer their efforts to some of Homer's pickiest palates in hopes of award and recognition. This will be the 30th year of the brew contest. It will be held downstairs at the Best Western Bidarka.

Up at Karen Hornaday Park from 3-4:30 p.m. Saturday, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies sponsors the Snowshoe Softball Games in partnership with the Homer Softball Community. Snowshoes will be available.

Sunday continues the carnival fun with more (car) ice racing on the lake, as well as snow machine racing.

Out at McNeil Canyon starting around noon Sunday is the not-o-be-missed Wine and Cheese and Wooden Ski Tour. The event is open to families of all ages. Snowshoes are welcome. This is a Kachemak Nordic Ski Club fundraiser, so there is an entry fee, though kids ski free.

The fun won't stop because the sun goes down, either. Throughout the festival, local nightclubs will feature music and dancing.

AJ's will feature music with Danny Lee on Thursday, Relatively Famous on Friday, and Elders on Fire on Saturday.

Ray-Jen Cajun will play the Queen's Ball, Homer's celebration of Mardi Gras, on Saturday night at the Down East Saloon in Kachemak City.

Winter Carnival Events