If you’ve lived in Alaska long enough, you’ll remember running into Sen. Ted Stevens, who was a force of nature. One of my early memories of him was visiting his office in Washington D.C. in the early 1970s and seeing his polished long-board surfboard standing in the corner. That added dimension to a guy who I only thought of as a formidable political genius. He was a sportsman who loved the great outdoors, and a man who loved his family.
Later, I remember spending the day with him in Juneau as he was meeting and greeting people at Gold Rush Days, a celebration of the past, present, and future of Southeast Alaska’s mining and logging industry. That was in the late ’90s and we enjoyed a hot pancake breakfast under a big tent in the rain. I remember wiping his chin with a paper napkin so he wouldn’t leave the table with a tell-tale syrup smudge.
Tomorrow is Ted Stevens Day, and that’s a phrase that goes with its slogan: “Get Out and Play.” Senator Stevens, who served 40 years as our Incredible Hulk senator, would want us to enjoy everything about the great outdoors in Alaska.
Here are some events that celebrate the life and times of Ted Stevens:
ANCHORAGE: Cuddy Family Midtown Park from 12-3 pm cebration with food and activities, at the Annual Teddy Bear Picnic, encouraging inclusive play for all Alaskans.
GIRDWOOD: The Girdwood Health Clinic is hosting free food and activities from 11 am to 2 pm, including a fire truck tour, blood pressure checks, bean bag toss, art activities, music and more to honor Senator Ted Stevens and his legacy to Alaska.
Senator Ted Stevens wanted to insure that residents and visitors of Girdwood and the Turnagain Arm Area had a facility that could provide health care. With his help, the old post office was acquired with a grant from the Denali Commission. It is now the home of the Girdwood Health Clinic. At 1 pm there will be a presentation of the Ted Stevens Annual Award, for the 2017 Friend of Girdwood Health Clinic.
KENAI-SOLDOTNA: Catch, Clean and Cook – 11 am at Soldotna Creek Park. In memory and celebration of Ted Stevens’ legacy and in conjunction with the Soldotna Progress Days event, the Kenai River Sportfishing Association joins in on this family fun day at the Soldotna Creek Park with its annual Catch, Clean and Cook program. The day includes a parade, music, family activities and various booths, including raffles, food and beverages.
CAN’T MISS THE STEVENS LEGACY
Everywhere you go in Alaska, you’ll see evidence of the state that Ted Stevens built — the NOAA Ted Stevens Marine Research facility in Juneau that you see when flying into the capital of Alaska, when you hike the rebuilt Perseverance Trail, or visit the Seward Alaska Sealife Center.
We can think of many less visible accomplishments, from Statehood, Title 9, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, ANSCA, the bypass mail system, the Trans Alaska Pipeline…the list of achievements is truly stunning.
But the last Saturday of each July is about recreation and enjoying the bounty and beauty of the land. Must Read Alaska will head to Juneau to get out and play, (traveling through the Ted Stevens International Airport on his special day.)
GOT A MEMORY? If you have a personal memory of Alaska’s great senator that you’d like to share with Must Read Alaska readers, please leave it in the comment section below. Thank you!
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Thank you so much for reading. Best wishes!
The last time I actually spoke with Senator Stevens was as we were both leaving a luncheon in the elevator at the Hilton. We were both recently converted non-smokers and I marveled at how potent the smell of cigarettes was. He looked at me and laughed saying, “that was one of the first things I noticed too!”
That’s what I loved most about ‘Uncle Teddy’; he was a real person. Of course, we all know who was more successful at winning the battle over nicotine!
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