Progress has multiple meanings, including:
"A moving forward or onward";
"Advance toward perfection or to a higher or better state"; and
Drop "Progress" between "Soldotna" and "Days" and you get a great community celebration designed to celebrate the city's past, present and future.
The event is scheduled for today, Saturday and Sunday, and everyone visitors and residents is invited to participate. As the saying goes, "the more, the merrier."
Longtime residents Mike and Gloria Sweeney will rule over the weekend celebration as king and queen of Progress Days. The honor couldn't be bestowed on a nicer couple. It would be impossible to detail all that the Sweeneys have done for the community largely because, like so many on the Kenai Peninsula, they don't contribute their time, talents, energy and resources for the recognition but because they love the community.
The same holds true for Marge Mullen, who has been chosen as grand marshal of the Progress Days parade. In typical independent, homesteader fashion, Mullen, who came to Alaska in 1945, plans to break with the tradition of the parade marshal riding in a big fancy car. Instead, she'll walk.
It goes without saying the centerpiece of the celebration is Saturday's parade. The parade lineup starts at 9 a.m. at Aspen Street and Marydale Avenue, with the parade beginning at 11 a.m. Other Saturday highlights include a variety of activities at the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center, live entertainment and vendors on West Park Avenue, a car show, rodeo and Soldotna Public Library's used book sale.
On Sunday, there's the annual Soldotna Creek Celebration at Soldotna Creek Park, which is hosted by the city of Soldotna and the Kenai Watershed Forum, plus the rodeo.
In other words, this weekend there will be plenty of fun for the entire family in Soldotna.
This year's Progress Days theme "River of Dreams" couldn't be more appropriate. It's a reflection of Soldotna homesteaders' desire to turn their village into a viable community. They succeeded in a big way. With a population of 4,000 people, Soldotna today is home to the central peninsula's retail shopping, sport fishing and health-care industries, in addition to being the seat of borough government.
This weekend is a chance to mark and celebrate the world-class Kenai River, which is the heart of Soldotna, and the community members who have made the city what it is today.
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