Preserving Kodiak's Maritime Heritage
Harbor Lights Festival
Since 2013, Kodiak Maritime Museum has sponsored the Harbor Lights Festival. The event features Kodiak’s fishing, sport, and personal vessels strung with holiday lights; and welcomes the community into the heart of Alaska’s largest fishing fleet. Prizes donated by local merchants will be awarded to the three best decorated boats.
The public is encouraged to enjoy the decorated boats with friends and neighbors in both the town-side St. Paul Harbor and at St. Herman’s Harbor on Near Island, and to cast ballots afterwards for “Best Decorated Boat” at the Harbor Convention Center. The event is held regardless of weather, so Kodiak Maritime Museum encourages folks to dress appropriately.
Volunteers will serve cookies and light refreshments at the Convention Center, and conduct Best Decorated Boat balloting. Live holiday music is also planned, and this year’s line-up includes St. Innocents Academy Choir, Isle Bells, and the Kodiak Marimba Band.
The event began as a successor to a long running, but sometimes cancelled, holiday boat parade featuring brightly decorated vessels steaming down the Near Island Channel. December darkness, combined with Kodiak’s notoriously inclement winter weather however, often made it hard for skippers to safely operate their vessels, and after the parade was called off one too many times and participation dwindled, the event was abandoned in the early 2000s.
In 2013, Kodiak Maritime Museum, with support from the Mayor of Kodiak, revitalized the notion of decorated boats as the Harbor Lights Festival, and encouraged boat owners and crew to keep their festively lit up boats moored safely in the harbor. This has made it easier and safer for skippers and crews to participate, and also allows the community to get up close to the vessels, and to mingle with fishermen and the larger community in a festive ambience.
Grants from the Kodiak Community Foundation and the City of Kodiak have made the event possible in the past, with gift certificates for the top three decorated boats provided by Sutliff’s True Value Hardware and refreshments contributed by Costsavers. Every year, dozens of volunteers serve coffee, hot chocolate and cookies.
If you’d like to help with Harbor Lights this year, or for more information, please contact Kodiak Maritime Museum at 486-0384, or firstname.lastname@example.org.