Unlike summer outdoor festivals and activities, the Peninsula Winter Games (PWG) has never depended upon the weather to have a great turn out. The recent event hosted by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce proved this fact once again. Thirty five years ago the games were created by Sterling missionary Al York for Alaskan families who live here year round to experience the fun of outdoor winter activities on the Peninsula. Since that time, the event has experienced everything from clear -20F degree days to temperatures registering 40F above zero and rain showers, but what has remained constant at each at the PWG are the trills, spills, and super smiles on the faces of the kids having fun. "It's always been and will always be about the kids," says Michelle Glaves, executive director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, which now coordinates the PWG. "It was a great day that included the Native Youth Olympics Friday through Sunday that brought kids from all over the state to participate, then Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center we had over 3,000 people turn out. For lunch the kids consumed over 1,100 corn dogs. Then for dinner Carol Martin and John Torgerson barbequed up a hundred twenty-some pounds of locally grown organic beef from the Diamond M Ranch donated by Matti's Farm, to go along with the spaghetti which was simply fabulous," she said.
The Peninsula Winter Games have become a community tradition that includes businesses and volunteers from across the Peninsula. This year 17 businesses in the Kenai - Soldotna area bought ice carvings to spruce up the community for the Winter Games. And they are still bringing out folks and their cameras. "The ice slides are still over at the Sport Center and for a location list of all the carvings, you can go our website at soldotnachamber.com or stop by the Chamber Visitors Center and we'll give you a list of where all the sculptures are. With this weather, you might have to dust off a little snow but it looks like they'll be around for awhile," said Glaves.
According to January Yaeger, the event coordinator for the Soldotna Chamber, nearly one hundred PWG volunteers help to make the event a success. "Including the Soldotna Rotarians cutting the block ice and the Blazy Construction placing them around town, and all the games from Kick Sledding to Ice Bowling it takes a ton of volunteers working with hundreds of kids. Of course year after year, ConocoPhillips steps up to the plate as a major sponsor and really without them this event just wouldn't happen, they are our main sponsor. So even though the smiles on the kid's faces express it best, a huge thank you to ConocoPhillips is in order. We have a lot of other sponsors as well, like Lynden Transportation that hauls those 2 ton blocks of ice around town and the list goes on and on from Echo Lake Lockers that donates meat for the spaghetti sauce, Frito Lay gave us chips, to Coca Cola for the soft drinks." Yeager noted. She encouraged people to visit the chamber's website for information, adding, "And the next time you do business locally let these folks know how much they are appreciated," she said. Plans for next year's PWG are already underway and Yaeger indicated the Soldotna Chamber was planning even more games and activities. "More games and more games! More outside activities, and if anyone has ideas to make a great event even more fun, just call or stop by the Chamber," added Yaeger.
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