The 15th Annual Return of the Salmon was held a Heritage Place (HP) May 20th. It all began when Dennis Murray, former HP administrator and Soldotna Rotarian wanted to start an event to honor the ancient tradition of celebrating the return of the salmon to the Kenai and honoring the elders of the community for their wisdom and hard work. “We stand on the shoulders of their accomplishments and sacrifices,” Murray use to say. So HP partnered with the Soldotna Rotary Club to recapture the spirit of our host culture in respecting and honoring our pioneers. At the Return of the Salmon everyone is welcome to come for a free feed and visit their family and friends who may or may not be residents at HP. “My children love coming here and giving hugs to residents, they get hugs in return and open a treasure of stories and information that they love hearing about,” commented Aud Walaszek, HP activity coordinator, “I wish everyone would bring their kids into visit our residents and not just at the Return of the Salmon but during the many activities we have here. Our residents continue to give back to the community and like to host events and open their home to the other seniors and care givers. They made all the decorations on the wall preparing for the event and many of the items in the silent auction,” she said. Heritage Pace a Continuous Care and Rehabilitation Community administered by Central Peninsula Hospital.
Live music for the Return of the Salmon free feed was provided by Sue Biggs & Jack Wells. Soldotna Rotary volunteers grilled the corn and deep fried the halibut. “HP’s Chef Aida prepared scrumptious breaded dip for the Halibut bites and all we had to do run the deep fryer and corn roaster which Irv Carlisle borrows every year,” said David Wartinbee. The menu also included salmon quiche, corn dogs and Hamburgers. “Additionally this year we had face painting going on and the AK Dept. of Fish and Game loaned us their educational cycle of the Salmon wheel-the odds aren’t good when you are a Salmon- amazing there are many to catch with all the unfavorable conditions and predators! But the residents loved playing the game and winning prizes,” added Walaszek. There was also a silent auction a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association that raised $1,747 according to Walaszek and included homemade jams and decorative wreaths made by the residents.
Other events on tap at HP for the summer include a garage sale at HP Fri-Sat June 10-11 with donations accepted for sale and proceeds go to HP Resident Council and the Alzheimer’s Association. HP is also planning the “Longest Day of the Year” Saturday June 18 bike ride fundraiser and awareness –call 714-5039 for details to participate.