'There are Golden Days ahead': Annual celebration of Fairbanks history will materialize amidst pandemic

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While many predominant Fairbanks summer events have been canceled, the annual 'Golden Days' celebration will still be taking place this summer on July 18... but with a few twists, as announced by the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.

"It accomplishes our community's desire to connect with one another, to get out of the house and enjoy some summer time traditions; but we're doing it in a way where we can also embrace what our healthcare community is asking us to do," CEO of the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Marisa Sharrah said. "We can physically distance, we can wear masks, we can keep our hands clean and we can get the best of both worlds there."

The ever-popular "Rubber Duckie Race" is still on -- but in an effort to avoid congregation at the Wendell Street Bridge where thousands of ducks are released, they will be streaming the race and announce the winner online.

"If you have ever been to the duck race before, you know there are literally thousands of people that line up on the river banks because it is so cool watch," Sharrah said. "This year we will probably do it not in the middle of the day on Saturday, but at a different time which as yet to be determined. We are also looking at alternatives to live stream that so that people can still watch it and they can still know at least who that first duck is, which that is what everyone really wants to know is, 'did I win that $10,000."

The Grande Parade will also be altered in the form of a "reverse parade". Rather than lining the streets, spectators can cruise past the floats on the Tanana Valley State Fairgrounds from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

"The parade route will be a closed course, very safe environment for people to go in and enjoy and celebrate and hoot and holler and roll your windows down and have a good time," Sharrah added.

The Street Fair involved with Golden Days features local food, retail and merchandise booths from across the community. This year, the chamber is envisioning to separate the vendors into about 20 'pods', that would feature a food, retail and information booth at each location.

"The Chamber really values that opportunity for entrepreneurs to go out and be entrepreneurial in our community," Sharrah said. "There are a lot of business that are set up where they really capitalize on some of these festivals and events. It is a good opportunity for a resident to go out and find some of those favorites that you can only find at a fair or festival."

Preparation for Golden Days typically begins in January, where planning was going smoothly until the COVID-19 pandemic affected countless business in March. Over recent weeks, the chamber developed the plans to still carry on the Golden Days tradition in a safe manner.

"We do feel incredibly fortunate. We had so many conversations leading up to the event this year to make sure that we had really good support and buy-in from our community," Sharrah said. "We have conferred with our healthcare professionals, we have conferred with our government officials, we have conferred with our sponsors and other businesses and vendors to get their ideas and their suggestions. We really feel like we have got the secret recipe to make a successful event that is also a safe and healthy event."

More information regarding Golden Days can be found at www.fairbankschamber.org.

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