While there have been more than a half century of Progress Days parades in Soldotna, few have been as picture perfect weather wise as this year’s. “The past five or six years have been so marginal we just had to have a better day because it just couldn’t get much worse,” said January Yaeger, event coordinator for the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce who has been totally in charge of the weather for the last five years. “We actually decided not to take credit for the beautiful weather this year because then we would have to take the blame for all the other years, so we are expressing appreciation to Mother Nature for the wonderful weekend that brought thousands to our fair city,” added Michelle Glaves, executive director for the Soldotna Chamber. “There were folks here from all over I ran into some visitors from Switzerland, Oregon, California and Missouri who had the cutest little dog called Muffin from Missouri wearing a son bonnet,” she said.
“We celebrate progress every year not because we’re trying to become a big city, but we celebrate the little things we’ve accomplished as a community that preserve our quality of life,” said Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche Sunday while barbequing hundreds of hot dogs at the traditional free City picnic at Soldotna Creek Park. The free picnic has a Progress Days feature for the last decade and this year folks were lining up an hour before the grill was fired up. Chosen as this year’s Parade Grand Marshall was James Fisher, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Pioneer of the Year who was an Alaska Constitution Convention delegate. Selected to serve as Progress Days Monarchs was King Carrol and Queen JoAnne Martin of the Diamond M Ranch, later this year Carrol will become the first male Alaskan inducted into the national 4-H Hall of Fame.
There were nearly 90 entries in this year’s parade and selected by the panel of judges as the Grand Overall Winner was the “Christmas in July” entry by Credit Union 1. Taking the first place award in the Organization category was the Sister City delegation from Akita, Japan. Judged best marching group were the “Weenies on Parade” and best Automobile award went to the Corvette Association of Anchorage. The best Bicycle entry went to I.D.E.A Home School and the best Individual Award to the “Micciche for Senate” float. The best Horse entry was won by the Soldotna Equestrian Assoc. with their trick riders and pink horses and mule. The “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” was also the theme of their rodeo this year in support of breast cancer awareness. According to Chris Sorrels president of the Soldotna Equestrian Assoc., “Everyone had their pink on for the rodeo and we also made a donation to the foundation. It was our biggest show ever and we are happy that everyone enjoyed it. We have been proud to be part of Progress Days through out the years,” he said.
“It was a wonderful weekend that wouldn’t have been possible without all the participants and the many volunteers and sponsors. Thank you, it just wouldn’t have happened without you,” added Glaves.