The 2004 Peninsula Winter Games certainly lived up to it to their slogan of "Something For Everyone in 48 Hours." The memories and experiences that changed young lives will last forever, or at least until next year's games. Whether it was the Irish humor and songs of Seamus Kennedy at two sell out performances, the thrilling snow machine races, the ceremonial start of the Tustumena 200, the snow shoe softball games, family sleigh rides, the amazing events at the Native Youth Olympics or kids decorating their own cookies, their were more events and activities for kids and winter sports fans than ever in the history of the Peninsula Winter Games.
Former Sterling missionary Al York, founder of the Winter Games, would have been well pleased with the turn out for this year's events. York's purpose in starting the Games was to get families out from in front of their TV's and into the wonder of winter fun activities. This year hundreds of families did just that, and thanks to the sponsors and volunteers there were more prizes and events than even York himself could have imagined. According to Paul Dale of Snug Harbor Seafoods, the frozen salmon toss, created by Aud Walaszek of Kasilof, had competitors from 4 to 84 years of age. Dale was kept busy all day in the cold and never took a break from measuring the distances reached by the frozen Humpies. The winning toss reached some 88 feet.
First time ice carvers Doug Green and Dave Ellington from Sterling delighted veteran ice carvers and visitors as well at the Sports Center Saturday afternoon. The team walked away with both the Carvers and Peoples Choice Awards for the ice carving competition. "It's all about having fun, we were really surprised to win both awards, and you can be sure we'll be back next year," said Green. The carvings will eventually melt away, but the memories they inspired never will.
It was made extremely clear this year, starting with the award winning Peninsula Winter Games float during the Christmas Comes To Kenai Electric Light Parade, and throughout the promoting of this year's event, "that the Peninsula Winter Games were for the kids." Maybe that was because all the adults were having so much fun doing all the kid things, but it was a fact that came through more than anywhere else at the Al York Memorial Junior Musher dog sled race Sunday afternoon. The eyes behind the goggles of a 4-year-old musher on his sled said it all, and what they said can never be measured in volunteer hours or monetary contributions. Thanks Al, the Winter Games are indeed all about the kids.
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