In between some morning and afternoon rain showers, hundreds of people crowded the streets of Soldotna for the annual Progress Days Parade. Whether it was the Nikiski Firefighters, the Kaknu Kruzers or the local Shriners, dozens of businesses and organizations from around the peninsula made their way down Marydale Avenue and Binkley Street in their custom floats and classic cars while entertaining the onlookers and handing out candy.
The intermittent rain ended up being a benefit for some resourceful kids who overturned their open umbrellas and used them as catchalls for the candy thrown their way. The parade ended at around noon at the Borough Assembly Building, but that was just the beginning of the day’s festivities. From there, everyone headed to Soldotna Creek Park to enjoy live music and entertainment, food from local vendors and crafts from local artisans. Part of the entertainment included a performance from the dance companies of Forever Dance studio in Soldotna set to tunes from “Mary Poppins Returns.”
Elizabeth and Steve Godsoe have been coming to Soldotna’s Progress Day parades for more than 10 years, and for the last two they have brought their son Oliver to enjoy the day as well. Elizabeth said that their favorite part of the day was all the different food that vendors offered, from reindeer hot dogs to bowls of stir-fry. Judging by the sauce on Oliver’s shirt and his smile while chowing down on some wings, it’s safe to say he agreed with his mom.
“Now I know why I packed three outfits for him,” Elizabeth said.
Anna Loehr and her mom, Billie, are longtime attendees of Progress Days — Billie has been coming for about 40 years and Anna a little over 20. Billie said she could remember the days when the parade traveled down the Spur Highway rather than Marydale and Binkley, and commented on how the recent addition of the festivities at Soldotna Creek Park have helped the attendance grow in recent years.
The McVey boys, Ryan, Carter, Ben and Gary are all fairly new to the area and to parades in general — Saturday was their first time seeing a parade in person rather than just on TV. When asked what their favorite part of the parade was, each had a different answer.
“My favorite was the bright red convertible,” Ryan said.
“I really liked the horses,” Carter said.
“We got a lot of candy,” Ben said. “It was better than Halloween!”