Things change during Christmastime. Neighbors become friends, passing glances become smiles and the spirit of giving fills the air.
One temporary change should delight area snowmachiners while it serves that spirit of giving: For a few hours Saturday, they will be allowed to ride through the city of Kenai if the snow shows up, that is.
The first charity snowmachine run will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The trail starts at the PRISM Fire Training Center on Marathon Road, loops through the city along Willow Street, Frontage Road and Bridge Access Road then through the golf course before returning to PRISM. The trail is a long route, but speed will not determine the winner.
“This is charity-oriented, not race-oriented,” said Chuck Kopp, acting city manager and co-organizer of the event. “It’s not a speed race at all.”
Snowmachiners will ride along the race route, stopping periodically at participating businesses to pick up tickets. At the end of the race, those tickets will be used to draw names for prizes, with first-, second- and third-place awards for both adult and children’s categories. The prizes go toward The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
The Kenai police and fire departments will patrol the race route to insure the safety, and road cones will be placed along the route to keep racers moving in the right direction.
Kopp said the idea for the race seemed logical.
“We thought it was a fun way to tie in winter recreation with the spirit of Christmas giving,” he said.
Funds raised from the snowmachine race will fill in an unexpected road bump this year for The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. As in year’s past, area residents can pick the names of needy children from Angel Trees in the area, purchase the gifts specified on the tags, then drop the presents under the trees. There are six locations for the trees this year, but the largest tree won’t go up at all.
“Fred Meyer is very kind to The Salvation Army, but they just flat don’t have the space for it this year,” Salvation Army Lt. Craig Fanning said.
Salvation Army bell-ringers will have tags available at the kettle sites outside Fred Meyer, but there will be no tree. According to store manager Ron Delany, the bell ringers will be able to accept the gifts.
“People have gotten in the habit of dropping their gifts off at the customer service desk over the past 11 years, but this year they’ll need to drop them off with the bell ringers,” Delany said.
The lack of such a large reminder in the area’s largest department store worries Fanning. Each year, The Salvation Army picks up the tab for the children whose names remain on the tree after the deadline. This year, funds from the snowmachine run will be necessary to purchase those gifts.
“We’re just not sure where we’re at, so hopefully we’ll have some of the funds from the snowmachine run,” he said.
There is only one nagging question: What if there isn’t enough snow to run the snowmachines?
“If there’s no snow, we obviously won’t have the snowmachine run, but we’ll still have a barbecue, drawings and fellowship at the PRISM center,” said Bob Frates, Kenai Parks and Recreation director and snowmachine run organizer.
Tickets for the snowmachine run are $5 and can be purchased at the Kenai Fire Department, Napa Auto Care Center or Alyeska Sales and Service in Kenai and Soldotna. Alyeska, Napa Alaska Oil Sales and Stewart Escrow Service and Title are providing the door prizes.
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