In 1934 Fairbanks began a tradition of celebrating the end of winter which they referred to as “Old Man Depression,” by putting on a Winter Carnival. This two-day event had a parade, dog races, winter sports contests, a concert, followed by a “burlesque parade,” fireworks and a big bonfire. These winter carnivals continued on for many years, however there is only one vestige left today of the former glory of these spring fever events, which is the Pioneers of Alaska King & Queen Regents. This year they crowned the 82nd pair of regents, who will represent Fairbanks at many parades and other events around the state during the course of the year.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner March 10, 1934
At the Pioneer Women’s meeting last night Mrs. Van Curler, popular resident of Fairbanks, was unanimously elected Queen Regent of the Ice Carnival
King Regent Craigie, who was chosen by the Pioneers of Alaska, approached one of the committees today, and inquired as to how much police protection he was to receive on Coronation Day.
Said His Majesty: “Some of the onlookers are liable to forget where they are. Suppose they think they’re back in the Old Country. Imagine my embarrassment to find a bomb wrapped around my neck.”
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner March 10, 1934
Parade And Coronation Inaugurate Two Days of Fun and Frolic Here
Fairbanks’ First Winter Carnival was inaugurated today. By command of the royal rulers of the event, all residents of the community and its many visitors will “mush the trail of fun and frolic” until tomorrow night. Warm temperatures favored the beginning of festivities this forenoon and a bright sun shone on participants in sports events this afternoon.
The program began with a colorful parade. It started at the Public School House. The line of march was through the principal streets of the city to the Ice Throne on the shore of the Chena River, where the coronation ceremonies took place.
The parade was led by R. E. Sheldon and John Miller in carnival costumes. They were followed by the Fairbanks Band, directed by V. F. Jacobs.
Next came the Moose Float of excellent appearance, followed by men and women members of the order, and then the automobile containing the Royal party, which consisted of Queen Sylvia Schmidt, King Pat O’Connor, Queen Regent Catherine Van Curler, King Regent William N. Craigie, Ladies-in-Waiting Charlotte Wehner and Virginia Rothahacker and Gentlemen-in-Waiting Edward Stroecker Jr., and Fritz Boyle.
Following the Royal car, (which by the way was the automobile in which the late President Harding rode when he visited Fairbanks,) came the Pioneer’s Float and a column of members of the Pioneers of Alaska.
They wore trail mushing attire, being equipped with snowshoes and carrying packs. This section of the parade was a striking feature.
After the Pioneers’ division came the high schools’ contingent, with its band. The concluding section of the parade was made up of grade school children.
At the Ice Throne, Paul J. Rickert, president of the Carnival Association, crowned the Queen and the King and then the Queen Regent and King Regent. The bands played the Carnival song, which had been composed and arranged by Mrs. L. L. Hufman, who originated the Carnival idea and to whose untiring efforts much of the success of the affair may be attributed.
Mrs. C. E. Murray took a leading part in arranging the details of the parade, as she has in many of the other activities of the Carnival.
The King Regent then formally announced the opening of the Winter Carnival:
“My beloved people: It is my royal prerogative to declare this Farthest North Carnival open. The first number of the festivities will be the dog race which starts exactly at 12 o’clock. Three speeds ahead. Everybody mush the trail of fun and frolic.”
Note: William Craigie, who was the first Pioneer King Regent, is the same William Craigie referred to in a prior History Nugget about the Moose Creek Bluff paintings. This year the 82nd Pioneer King and Queen Regents are Gen and Mebble Hansen. Be sure to give them a big wave when they go by in the Golden Days Parade this summer. This regal Pioneer History Nugget has been proudly brought to you by the Fairbanks Igloos of the Pioneers of Alaska.