The Firemen’s Carnival is back !
By Megan Gannon
Hundreds of Nomeites and visitors from the surrounding villages packed into the Nome Recreation Center for the first Firemen’s Carnival since 2019.
Kids stood in line for face-painting, balloons, the cake walk, the candy wheel and other games. Attendees hovered over long bingo tables to grab a seat and test their luck at winning prizes. They ate snow cones, hot dogs and, if they arrived early, the quickly sold-out Filipino food prepared by the Rotary Club in the bowling alley.
They scribbled their names on reams of raffle tickets that helped raise money for the Nome Volunteer Fire Department in its biggest fundraiser of the year.
“It’s a small community, but everyone comes together when big events happen,” said Nome Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim West, Jr.
NVFD had been planning the event since the spring. The funds raised will help offset purchases of gear for search and rescue operations, for specialized training and anything else the City of Nome doesn’t cover, West said.
With the event held at a particularly stormy time of year, weather has often interfered with past carnivals, and this year was no different. Warm, wet weather conditions brought rain and a slick coating of ice to roads and powerlines and just about every other surface in town. Flights were canceled. Nome’s Checker Cab service stopped running for the safety of its drivers.
Ahead of the carnival, NFVD sends out raffle tickets to sell in villages and expects to get them back via Bering Air. As so many regional flights were grounded, about 800 tickets were stuck in White Mountain. But William “Little Wink” Gray brought them in by snowmachine.
“He brought them into town and made sure they were delivered,” West said.
The ride paid off. White Mountain’s Roberta Katongan won one of the top prizes: the two round-trip Alaska Airlines tickets donated by the airline.
Among the other winners: Isaac Thompson won the coveted 2022 Skidoo that was propped up in the middle of the gym enticing attendees to buy raffles. Lola Hannon of Koyuk won an upright freezer donated by Nome Outfitters. Greg Novak and Alex Morgan won local shopping sprees for $1,000 and $500, respectively.
West always worries that a crew will have to respond to a fire in the middle of the carnival. That didn’t happen this year, but as everyone was leaving the Rec Center, NVFD got a call about a possible fire at Covenant Church, which turned out to be just a problem with the sprinkler system.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever responded to a fire in a tie,” West said.