Wrangell in a snowy cloak.

Tent City Days!

This weekend is Tent City Days in Wrangell. Originally a celebration of the Gold Rush days, there are different and fun events from year to year. Today, among other events, were the Fishermen’s Competition, the Adult Scrapfish Derby, and a demonstration practice by the Garnet Grit Betties Roller Derby Team. There was more, like the Chocolate Lovers Fest, but all of the chocolate for that two hour event sold out in 29 minutes, and I missed it. Well, it has been a little bit gray and rainy lately, so half the town was in need of the chocolate cure. The female half.

There used to be bed races down Main Street as part of Tent City Days. Over the years the number of beds dwindled and the soundness of the remaining two is…questionable. Since fishermen are masters of a variable environment it somehow makes sense that the survival suit competition and bed races were combined. In a way.

Suiting up for bed racing.

Suiting up for bed racing.

Each team has two members. One team member puts on a life jacket and the other puts on a survival suit, aka Gumby suit. Gumby hops aboard and gets pushed down a wet street on a rickety bed with bad wheels. At the turnaround point the team members trade the life jacket and survival suit, and the new Gumby gets to ride in style back to the start/finish line.

Getting there before the wheel falls off.

Getting there before the wheel falls off.

Switching suits. Hey, its a rubbery hoodie-footie with two fingers and a thumb that are too globby to use. It ain't easy.

Switching suits. Hey, its a rubbery hoodie-footie with two fingers and a thumb that are too globby to use. It ain't easy.





The Fishermen's Competition included Buoy Races. No, I can't explain it.

Buoy Racing, Women's Division

Buoy Racing, Women's Division

Buoy Racing, Men's Division.

Buoy Racing, Men's Division.


Meanwhile, down on the airplane float, the Adult Scrapfish Derby was starting up. This is a handline only competition. No fishing poles, no fancy gear. Texting while fishing is acceptable.

The Adult Scrapfisher’s were catching….crabs.


The crustacean variety.

Weighing in a crab at the Adult Scrapfish Derby.

Weighing in a crab at the Adult Scrapfish Derby.


Innocent little crab? No, no, no. Beady little eyes plotting major finger-pinching. Ornery little crab that didn’t get the memo about catch-weigh-release. The end wasn’t pretty.

Also happening on the dock was the Crab Pot pulling Competition. Throw the pot, let it hit bottom, then pull the pot while coiling the line as you go.


No crabs were caught during the Crab Pot Pulling Competition.

Kooks Deluxe of the Garnet Grit Betties Roller Derby Team practicing a jump.

Kooks Deluxe of the Garnet Grit Betties Roller Derby Team practicing a jump.

Up at the gym the Garnet Grit Betties Roller Derby Team showed how it's done. With Tim Rooney and Amber Al-Haddad announcing, the Betties warmed up and then demonstrated whips and blocks and toe stops and derby falls. The referees showed us hand signals.

Something was said about a "full contact sport."


These are just a few of the highlights. Wrangell's Tent City Days has a four day schedule with events for all ages and body types. It is February. Wrangell is a town on an island. We make our own fun.

Tree Lighting

Awhile back I was standing on the steps of the post office chatting with a new resident.

"I love it here!" she told me, "For all kinds of reasons, like being in a place where a young boy holds the door open for someone."

There he was, young enough that the door was heavy for him, but still pulling for all he was worth, and waiting for her to enter the building. She said, "Thank you," as she walked into the post office.

He replied, "You're welcome."

Wrangell is a town that includes their children. Lemonade Day allows young people to run their own business. The community makes an event of it, and turns out to support the kids' businesses by buying their lemonade. Garnets mined from Garnet Ledge may only be sold by the children of Wrangell. There is a summer reading program at the library that is not only lots of fun, but it also has an impressive list of prizes to reward young people for their efforts. There are many other events that tell children through actions that they are a part of the community now. They don't have to grow up in order to take their place in the town. The kids take that inclusiveness to heart. They work to get good grades in school (some of the highest in the state), do terrific projects around Wrangell, and love their home town.

Downtown Wrangell with the Christmas tree almost ready.

A toasty warm fire on a snowy evening.

Every year Wrangell has a Christmas tree right downtown. The city power crew puts the lights and star onto the tree, and then the decorations. Each year the decorations are made by the elementary school children! What a great symbol of the creativity of young people decorating and enriching our lives.

Yesterday evening was the tree lighting. The street was closed to vehicles, and a large crowd of people gathered. There were special holiday warming stations.

The tree was lit and the crown oohed and aahed, and then Santa showed up! I didn't get a picture of Santa, because I couldn't get near him. That is as it should be, though, because Santa had LOTS of children to talk to. They lined up and it looked like Santa would be busy for a long time. Thank you, Santa, for stopping in our little town.

My sweetheart and I visited with friends as we strolled through the craft sales. At one of the sales I saw a youngster with a goldfish in a bag of water.

"I won it at the carnival," she told me, "I know it is a girl fish because of her name: Sue-She!"

The children's carnival was the next stop. There were all kinds of games! The goldfish toss was very popular.

Tossing a ball to win a goldfish.

I think that goldfish bowls are going to be hard to find in town today.

Another popular game was the duck hunt.

Dad helping his son with the proper shooting stance.

There were youngsters skipping around the cake walk, a boy who was so happy with his catch at the fishing pond that he sat right down to start playing with the toys, and much more. There were lots of happy kids.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Alaska Beachcomber

Christmas Tree Lane

Part of Christmas Tree Lane in the Nolan Center.

Today, for the first time, I strolled down Christmas Tree Lane at the Nolan Center. What a journey of delights!  I let the delicate lights and enchanting decorations float me along. The creativity that went into the trees made me grin and it was such an uplifting experience that I had to share it with you. It is more than Christmas trees, and something that you should go experience, too.

The town pulls together on this event, and provides something nice to light your day. Yes, you can bid on the trees if you want one. There is more, though, as this event gives to all of the people involved.

Beautiful decorations adorn a tree in Christmas Tree Lane.

I talked with Jacquie Dozier, the organizer of Christmas Tree Lane, and she said that she wanted to express the “quiet beauty and loveliness of Christmas.”  Oh Jacquie, that sentiment is better than hot chocolate for making the season nice.  She also told me a short, but important story…

A very special time was had by some of the elves that helped set up Christmas Tree Lane. They showed up to volunteer, and ended up having so much fun that they wanted to stay and continue to decorate. They got so busy that this year’s Christmas Tree Lane fills more of the museum lobby than ever before. They also wanted to share the fun by bringing in more helpers, and said that next year they would bring friends.

A teddy bear Christmas Tree!

A tree that is going to make a young girl very happy!

When you go see Christmas Tree Lane you can vote on your favorite tree! There are People's Choice awards, so look all of the trees over and take a minute to put your choice into the ballot box.

As if you need another excuse to go, there are trees that will delight young people! Borrow the neighbor's kids and take them with you. Afterwards you can get them ice cream cones before taking them back to their homes. Okay, really you can take them sledding, because I know that you want to go sledding, too.

I just love handmade decorations, and there are so many along the lane that are extra special.

Lovely handmade ornaments.

Total coolness! Wheels everywhere!

Christmas Tree Lane is a fund raiser for Hospice of Wrangell and for other organizations and groups. Hospice is an all-volunteer organization that assists people during the last part of their life, helping with various tasks and providing comforting company. Hospice serves anyone in Wrangell.

The Nolan Center graciously provides cookies and coffee, as if you needed another reason to amble along Christmas Tree Lane! It is only at the Nolan Center until December 14th.

Hospice of Wrangell and Christmas Tree Lane are something seriously right with this town.

Happy Holidays, All!

Alaska Beachcomber