Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Alaska Land aka Pioneer Park - 50th Anniversary

This past Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the founding of Pioneer Park.  It was founded on May 27, 1967 to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia.  It was originally called Alaska 67 or A67 for short but soon afterwards it was renamed Alaska Land.  In 2001, it was renamed again to Pioneer Park to reflect its historical significance.  Most people who have spent any time in Fairbanks call it Alaska Land.

So in celebration, they planned a day full of celebrations including a variety of performers starting with the community band.  They were spread out on the Gazebo and the platform just in front of it.  

The band took up all the space and the director told people to please be careful and not fall off.  I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the band but I was off in the French Horn section at the time playing 4th.  The picture to the right is taken from the stage showing the distance to many cities from Fairbanks.
The city set it up so there would be rides for all children, no matter the age.  This shot is taken from the information booth at the entrance.  you can see the Ferris wheel towering majestically above the other rides.

The area with the amusement rides doubles for BBQ's when any group such as the Department of Transportation, any governmental body, or the city wishes to host one.  There is a huge one during Golden Days.  The building to the right is Centennial Hall where people perform on a regular basis.
 This picture shows Centennial Hall better and you can see the line for one of the rides.  The park opened at noon and this picture was taken just after 1PM when the concert ended and the mayor began to speak. 

One of the speakers mentioned he'd helped create the park 50 years before.  I am not much for amusement rides so I wandered around the area and snapped pictures.  I also had to get moving so I could make my next appointment.

 This ride had not yet opened but it looked like they were getting ready to start.  It is one of those that looked really pretty with the lights.  Most of the rides were already working and there were a few food trucks which had the same long lines as those for the rides.
Behind this ride is one of those whirling type rides filled with both adults and children and the line was quite long. 

Things like this always attract people, especially after a long dark winter and the last snow fall just a couple days before this event.  I saw little snow at my house but on the other side of town, the ground was totally covered with hail.  Fortunately, the hail did not damage anything.
 This oriental front is drawing people in to ride the small portable roller coaster.  Although it wasn't as high and wild as one you would find at an amusement park, it still attracted lots of people. 

The closest real amusement park is somewhere around Seattle I think.  It might even be further south than that.  An amusement park would only be open for a few months every year so its not a viable business up here.
 In the picture to the right, you see the end of the portable roller coaster.  You can also see some of the people waiting to ride it.  At one point the line for the roller coaster and line for the Ferris wheel which is to the left and not in the picture got confused so I wasn't sure which line went where.
The last thing offered is a high slide. Lots of parents took their children up to the top and some even slid down with the younger children.

Off to the right is a food truck.  You can just see the edge of it in the picture.  They offered the usual things.  What you don't see is the long lines of people waiting their turn to be served. 

It was a busy crazy day full of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  I got there early enough to find a good parking spot but by the time I left around 2 PM, people were trolling the lot, looking for somewhere to park. 

As I pulled out, a car followed me, taking my spot.  I'd parked at the edge.  I'll be presenting more pictures of the place.  You'll see why its considered a slice of history.

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