Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 19:00
Do you recognize this surly looking Santa? Perhaps you know who the young child is? The Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society would love to hear from anoyone who might know anything about this photo from their archives. To reach them, email [email protected] or leave a message at 688-4707. The society would like to thank Chuck Canterbury, media relations officer at JBER, for identifying the Mystery Photo from Nov. 22. Canterbury stated the same photo is in the photo collection at the Public Affairs Office. The group in the photo is an Army Signal Corps construction team (actually a right-of-way crew) at the Gulkana section of the Valdez-Fairbanks trail they were building for an Army telegraph line in 1909. It is also in a volume of Lyman Woodman’s three-volume history of the Army in Alaska entitled, “Duty Station Northwest: The U.S. Army in Alaska and Western Canada, 1867-1987.”

It’s not a foreign language, merely a combination of CHUgiak, BIRchwood, EaGLE River and HomeSTEAD, the elementary schools involved in a winter sports carnival in the 1970s.

The winter carnival actually began in 1966 as the Chugiak Winter Sports Carnival, the brainchild of teacher Andy Kirk, who was the primary organizer of the affair of years. The 1967 carnival was held on March 5th at the “old” Chugiak Elementary School, and sponsored by the PTA. It consisted mainly of a variety of racing contests, such as sled, snowshoe and ice skating speed races, plus family events like relay ice skating races for parent-son and parent-daughter combinations. There was also the traditional three-legged race and a variety sled race in which only “sleds” not manufactured for sliding could be used. These were often pieces of cardboard or sheets of plastic, even a washtub. The slide was the steep hill behind the school, a favorite sledding hill for years.

At the end of the contests, points for first, second and third places were added up and the winners were awarded ribbons.

The Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department manned a first aid station and there was a warm-up shelter. By 1969, the Chugiak High School student council was selling hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee, candy bars and pop in the multi-purpose room.

As other elementary schools in the area opened, they joined in the Winter Carnival that continued to be held in Chugiak. However, coordinating the event became something of a nightmare and it ended.


This column is provided by the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society. Reach them at [email protected] or leave a message at 688-4706.

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