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Survival Guide to The Anchorage Fur Rondy Experience

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Unfortunately, Fur Rondy has nothing to do with this:

fabulous furries

These particular “furries” left a large tip at the hotel where their furry convention was held.  “Fur Rondy”, alas, is about dead pelts and 2000 people running with 20 reindeer. Oh also there are many dogs pulling sleds with people on them. It’s a two week season of  sunny spring madness which forces all Anchorage residents to change the way they drive to work as well as to attend at least one officially sanctioned “Fur Rondy Event.” If you don’t wear a Fur Rondy Pin downtown, (where you will find it impossible to drive anyway), a “cop”, usually someone from The Lion’s Club, will falsely imprison you until you buy a button for bail. I have only been arrested in this way once and it was by a friend. It does not go on your record unless you are publicly drinking or smoking pot at the time.

This year I attended several Fur Rondy events which explains my current state of exhaustion. We get 5 minutes more sunshine each day and the sun no longer cruises the horizon but sits about 45 degrees above the edge of the earth bringing us a dose of solar energy similar to a niacin rush. If you have bipolar disorder you may want to take out some trip insurance.

I cross country skied over to Campbell Airstrip to watch dog teams zip by, attended a skating party with  hip hop remixes of all the pop songs of my youth. I crammed our company van onto a skinny path parallel to the Iditarod dog trail to make sure the older and less physically snow- able folks we care for had a chance to take part in the fun. My backing out of the parking space got the most (nervous) laughs.

I’ve blogged about Fur Rondy before. At first I took the event at face value, as a winter carnival.  It’s actually a spring fever/Mardi Gras/Equinox, anti-suicide intervention thing. Fur Rondy screams, “Get out of the house you the people who have chosen to live in unfriendly climes!”  Folks wear over-the- top fur hats and coats because they’re going to have to put them away pretty soon. It’s a time for outhouse races, blanket toss, ice bowling and Duck Tape costume balls.  This is Anchorage at its goofiest and least costly as many events are free or at least free to watch. It’s not cold enough to kill you and there aren’t enough tourists for the locals to want to kill you. Reminder: everyone is carrying a firearm except for you and maybe those Keystone cops.

I tend to stay out too long and have too much fun which means I suffer sunburn in the summer and near hypothermia each winter.  It’s probably safer for someone like me to live in a town that serves wine and cheese at indoor events instead of hot chocolate and cookies by a trash barrel full of flaming logs on an icy wind ridden lagoon. But we all find places we feel at home whether wearing real or fake fur. I keep trying to escape but I just can’t seem to find a weirder place. I do hope there is someone clever enough to schedule a Furry Convention during the Rondy next year. Just think how comfortable your  Fursuits will be!



Marching into winter- Alaska style!

It’s not spring yet, oh Non-Yeti people of the South. I fell on the ice three times in the last two days, twice trying to unplug my car and once ice skating. It’s balaclava weather, a stiff wind with cold, dry undertones of glacier.  And yet, no snow. This is why I keep slipping, not because I am old and clumsy and I have to climb an icy hill to wrap my extension cord around the fence after I unplug my vehicle. It’s the Ice, baby, ice.

In Alaska, this is time for the midwinter festival. We have an outdoor carnival, parade and usually, if we had snow, some dog races. What we had this  year were faux races, kind of like a reality TV show of what is supposed to be a ceremonial start, (read not even real when there is snow!)  Here is a photo from the ceremonial start of The Iditarod in downtown Anchorage this year. It was about 15 degrees F. but felt like 0 because downtown is a wind tunnel. There’s nothing like pink hair and a fuchsia beard to warm things up.

We may not have snow but we have style!

We may not have snow but we have style!

That slushy snow you see was hauled in from the snow dump in town only to be rained upon the night before the race. To see what the downtown streets really look like, here are some scenes  from The Fur Rondy parade the week before.  Let’s start with my all time favorite float – the giant inflatable colon with Mr. Polyp!

Next year I will volunteer to be Mr Polyp!

Next year I will volunteer to be Mr Polyp!

Note that there is no snow or ice on the colon!  Behind the serious health message of Mr. Polyp was a float from a  local business with a similar theme.

Sitting down on the job

Sitting down on the job

And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the roughage!

Sad to say, only the white bread was marching. I will boycott until I see brown bread represented

Sad to say, only the white bread was marching. I will boycott until I see brown bread represented

I did find what looked like a marginally local clump of snow off the parade route.

Parking was a little tight downtown but this is just showing off!

Parking was a little tight downtown but this is just showing off

And thus arrives March with a bite of frosted but no flakes, okay perhaps a few human ones. Self included.