A participant in Heritage Place’s entry in the Progress Days parade hands a piece of candy to a young spectator as the group makes its way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A participant in Heritage Place’s entry in the Progress Days parade hands a piece of candy to a young spectator as the group makes its way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Marking progress with familiar festivities

Although the Progress Days parade was peppered with political campaign floats as it wound its way through Soldotna, most of the focus was on fun and community.

Most of the candidates for the state races relevant to the central Kenai Peninsula took the opportunity for face-time with Soldotna-area residents during the 61st annual Progress Days parade Saturday. Gubernatorial candidates Bill Walker, Mike Dunleavy and Mead Treadwell, District O senatorial candidates Peter Micciche and Ron Gillham, District 29 House candidate Wayne Ogle and District 30 candidate Gary Knopp all marched down Marydale Avenue toward the Kenai Peninsula Borough administration building, where the judges’ table stood. The two opposing campaigns for and against Ballot Measure 1 — known as the Stand for Salmon initiative — also marched in the parade, with supporters carrying a massive sockeye salmon replica down the street.

But the businesses, schools and organizations outnumbered the politicians, distributing candy and playing music as they marched. The Forever Dance Alaska studio brought a crowd of dancers performing a number set to the theme from the Pixar movie “The Incredibles,” jumping and lunging on their way down the road. The Apostolic Assembly of Christ loaded up a full band with speakers and a mass of balloons labeled “the Joy Dispenser.” The residents of Heritage Place, Central Peninsula Hospital’s skilled nursing facility, rolled by laden with balloons and candy and tissue paper flowers.

The Progress Days parade is a hallmark of the annual festivities organized by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, which take over the city and Soldotna Creek Park for the weekend. The events began Friday night with a homesteader meet and greet at the Soldotna Historical Museum, and the market and live music began in Soldotna Creek Park on Saturday morning. The market and live music continue into Sunday, when the city of Soldotna hosts a free community barbecue.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

A volunteer in Heritage Place’s entry in the Progress Days parade hands a balloon to a young spectator on Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A volunteer in Heritage Place’s entry in the Progress Days parade hands a balloon to a young spectator on Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers for Gov. Bill Walker’s gubernatorial reelection campaign float in the Progress Days parade make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers for Gov. Bill Walker’s gubernatorial reelection campaign float in the Progress Days parade make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Gov. Bill Walker drives a tractor part of his gubernatorial reelection campaign float in the Progress Days parade down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Gov. Bill Walker drives a tractor part of his gubernatorial reelection campaign float in the Progress Days parade down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A participant in classic car club Kaknu Kruzers’ display in the Progress Days parade waves to spectators on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A participant in classic car club Kaknu Kruzers’ display in the Progress Days parade waves to spectators on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Participants in Heritage Place’s dispaly in the Progress Days parade chat as they make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Participants in Heritage Place’s dispaly in the Progress Days parade chat as they make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers in Stand for Salmon’s float in the Progress Days parade carry a large replica of a sockeye salmon down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers in Stand for Salmon’s float in the Progress Days parade carry a large replica of a sockeye salmon down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Josiah Martin of Soldotna deftly perches atop a unicycle during the Progress Days parade on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Josiah Martin of Soldotna deftly perches atop a unicycle during the Progress Days parade on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Dancers from studio Forever Dance Alaska perform a routine set to the theme of the Pixar film “The Incredibles” during the Progress Days parade on Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Dancers from studio Forever Dance Alaska perform a routine set to the theme of the Pixar film “The Incredibles” during the Progress Days parade on Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kids flock to pet a dog with the 21st Century Realty float at the Progress Days parade on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kids flock to pet a dog with the 21st Century Realty float at the Progress Days parade on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A young Progress Days parade volunteer distributes some candy to the parade judges on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A young Progress Days parade volunteer distributes some candy to the parade judges on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Ian Garay, 7, (left) and Stephanie Daigle, 3, (right), take stock of their candy stash collected from the Progress Days parade on Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Ian Garay, 7, (left) and Stephanie Daigle, 3, (right), take stock of their candy stash collected from the Progress Days parade on Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Participants in Soldotna High School’s float in the Progress Days parade chat as they make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Participants in Soldotna High School’s float in the Progress Days parade chat as they make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Participants in Stand for Alaska’s float in the Progress Days parade make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Participants in Stand for Alaska’s float in the Progress Days parade make their way down Marydale Avenue on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A participant in Central Emergency Services’ float in the Progress Days parade waves to spectators on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A participant in Central Emergency Services’ float in the Progress Days parade waves to spectators on Saturday, July 28, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The parade kicks off the weekend-long event celebrating Soldotna’s history, with a market on Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna Creek Park and a concert Saturday night followed by a free community barbecue Sunday. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

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