Thumbs up: Firefighters. When the Munson Creek Fire ignited June 18, all eyes in the Interior started watching the smoke plume rising about 50 miles north of Fairbanks. Caused by lightening, the fire is one of 42 active fires burning in the state as of Sunday. There are currently 198 fire-affiliated personnel working the fire, which has burned 36,609 acres so far. No homes or structures have been lost, and for that we are thankful, although the fire did come dangerously close to Chena Hot Springs Resort in recent days. We’re also thankful for those 198 firefighting personnel — from firefighters to pilots to communications officials to smokejumpers — who are on the front lines working to keep it in check. In Alaska, wildland fires are a fact of life. The fire crews who walk into the woods deserve our thanks for putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure we are at our safest.
Thumbs up: The Fairbanks Independence Day Parade. Fourth of July weekend in Fairbanks couldn’t have asked for a better response. Parades, community gatherings, patriotic festivities — the Interior put it all on display. The most talked about event was the return of the Fairbanks Independence Day Parade, something the city has not seen in at least 50 years. Hundreds of spectators lined First and Second avenues, from Barnette Street to the Carlson Center, to watch the 11/2 hour parade that celebrated our Independence Day. The organizer, Fairbanks resident Christine Robbins, took it upon herself to revitalize the parade, and in about the span of one month she put the event in place, from procuring a parade permit to finding sponsors to rounding up entrants. Her work did not go unnoticed, especially by parade attendees who waved flags and cheered on the participants. It’s an event we would like to see return next year, and it’s one we’d like to see grow with even more community involvement.
Thumbs down: The woke mob that decried the Fairbanks Independence Day Parade. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished on social media, and the Fairbanks Independence Day Parade was a prime example. Leftwing online voices criticized the parade and its organizer, warning that Nazi hordes and white supremacists would take over the celebration and run amok through downtown. (Note: The parade contained no actual Nazis or white supremacists, amok or otherwise.) From the safety of their keyboards, the woke mob belittled the event because the organizer is a conservative woman of faith. It’s a bad look, frankly, and does nothing to unify Fairbanks.
Thumbs down: Goldpanners Covid-19 cases. Two Covid-19 outbreaks among the Alaska Goldpanners serve as a stark reminder: The pandemic is not over. The outbreaks — one on June 15, the other July 6 — forced the team to cancel home and away games and shorten their season. As an independent team, the Goldpanners compete against members of the Alaska Baseball League. Neither the team nor the league have a vaccination requirement for players. After the first outbreak, General Manager John Lohrke told the News-Miner roughly half the team had been vaccinated and he anticipated more would become vaccinated following the initial suspension of games in June. Only 51% of Alaskans ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. We like that Alaska’s Covid cases have declined overall. That’s a good thing. But as the Goldpanners’ outbreaks attest, we’re far from being out of the pandemic. Getting the vaccine is a step toward slowing Covid-19.