Onlookers await the passing of parade floats at the Progress Days Parade in Soldotna on July 27, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Onlookers await the passing of parade floats at the Progress Days Parade in Soldotna on July 27, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Progress Days to look different this year

The chamber had planned to expand Progress Days to a four-day event.

The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce was planning to have a different Progress Days celebration this summer.

Just not this different.

Shanon Davis, executive director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, said that before the new coronavirus pandemic, the chamber had planned to expand Progress Days to a four-day event, with three days of concerts at Soldotna Creek Park followed by a parade on July 25.

Due to the pandemic, the chamber has cut Progress Days down to one day. Wednesday, the chamber will put on a Soldotna Strong Progress Day Celebration from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Soldotna Creek Park.

Davis said losing the four-day event is tough. At the same time, the chamber is happy to salvage something for Progress Days.

“It is bittersweet,” she said. “We are a chamber that is well-known for engaging with our community. It’s been a huge adjustment for us to continue to try to find ways to support the business community in any way we can.

“We’re encouraging people that even though the summer looks different, they can still get out and enjoy Alaska.”

Davis said the first big blow to the chamber’s original Progress Days plan came at the end of June, when the Soldotna City Council said there will be no music concerts at Soldotna Creek Park this summer.

Then, as COVID-19 cases continued to rise, David said chamber board and staff decided a parade wouldn’t happen.

“We agonized over it and really went back and forth and back and forth,” she said.

Chamber staff then brainstormed and worked with Annette Villa of Soldotna Wednesday Market to come up with the new plan.

The plan started with the Soldotna Strong Shop Local Campaign. Shoppers grab a card from any participating location and get a stamp for every $10 spent in participating stores. A card is filled up with 10 stamps.

Participating businesses are available by navigating through the events tab to “Progress Day” at visitsoldotna.com.

Wednesday, all full cards will be put in a drawing for a $500 Visa card.

“It’s been going great,” Davis said. “Several of the businesses that are a part of it reached out for more shopper cards. People have definitely been using them.”

The Wednesday event also will included a live radio remote, a 1:30 p.m. performance on the big stage by Forever Dance Alaska and an expanded Soldotna Wednesday Market.

In addition to the normal vendors, Davis said the market will include businesses looking to engage with the community, but not necessarily selling anything.

“There hasn’t been a lot of opportunity to engage with the community this summer,” Davis said.

The finale of the event will be the Amazing Chamber Chase. Up to 20 teams can sign up for the event. Davis said five teams are signed up thus far. The cost is $25 per four-person team, with $5 for each additional member and teams capped at six.

At 5:30 p.m., teams will be emailed 20 clues to find locations within 1.5 miles of Soldotna Creek Park. Teams will find selfie stations at the spots. Teams report back to Soldotna Creek Park at 8 p.m. Prizes will be available for most selfies and best team costume.

“It’s going to be very fun,” Davis said. “We’ve been having fun going over clues and making sure they’re not too hard and they’re not too easy.”

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