Thomas Dyer, left, and Mike Oliver, right, wheel Tiffani Perry down Binkley Street in Soldotna Saturday morning during the Progress Days parade. The three were representing Kenai Peninsula Colleges emergency medical services program. The colleges newly decorated ambulance follows the students.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
There's no shortage of things to do in the river city this weekend, as Soldotna celebrates what makes it great with the return of Progress Days.
Crowds of people turned out for the parade Saturday morning and took part in waving at the numerous floats a blend of new entries and familiar faces from years past.
Afterward, people dispersed to partake in the festivities, many with themes that fit the "Building Bridges to the Future" theme.
Although not driving over a bridge, Joann Langendorfer of Ninilchik got to experience the sensation of driving a NASCAR vehicle. She raced in the computerized Goodwrench No. 29, Kevin Harvick's race car, at the "Cruise for Kids" Ronald McDonald House fund-raiser at Hutchings Chevrolet.
Langendorfer crashed and burned a few times but eventually crossed the finish line in 40th place and said she had a good time doing it.
"I'm not the best at it, I think it's more for the younger crowd, but it was fun. You just push on the gas and the pedal goes to the metal," Langendorfer said.
Doug Field entertains the crowd with his vintage bicycle reproduction during Saturdays parade.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
She and her husband, Bob, said they come up every year for the Progress Days car show sponsored by Hutchings and the Anchorage Corvette Association.
"We're car enthusiasts so we really enjoy it. It just keeps getting bigger and getting more people every year," Langendorfer said.
Not far away, Great Bear Ford was holding a similar event the fifth annual Progress Days Bill Banta Memorial Car Show and Shine. It, too, featured unique cars in a variety of colors, makes and models, from several eras of the last century.
"I think they're cool," said Richard Derkevorkian of Soldotna in regard to the cars in the show.
"They're cars you don't see every day classic cars and race cars and this gives you a chance to see them up close," he added.
Tom and Linda Rosin, 30-year residents of Soldotna, said they could notice progress in their city by walking around the Soldotna Creek Park Celebration put on by the chamber of commerce.
"There's a lot more vendors here compared to past years," Linda Rosin said.
"I really like the more central location this year. There's been no problems with traffic or parking. It shows (Soldotna) can handle all this, with all the tourists," Tom Rosin said.
"It shows real progress. That's great," he added.
With more than three decades in the city is was easy for the Rosins to see all the changes, but tourists said they could sense the city oozed with progress.
"It's not like similar events I've been to back home," said Jen Thomlin, visiting from Arizona. "You can really tell this is a place that's in the process of growing and getting more established year after year."
Progress Days festivities continue today. From noon until 4 p.m., the Soldotna Creek Celebration at Soldotna Creek Park continues with food, music and numerous vendors selling arts and crafts.
Family Rodeo Fun Day begins at 2 p.m. at the Soldotna Rodeo Grounds. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Ski Hill Road will show films at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Also, Natron Air will offer 15-minute flight-seeing trips over Soldotna for $100.
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