Pioneer Park opens for the Memorial Day weekend with fun for everyone

Pioneer Park opens for the Memorial Day weekend with fun for everyone.
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 9:11 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Pioneer Park is opening this weekend and the summer fun planned for the park will live in parallel with construction and restoration projects.

Pioneer Park is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, which means the park is officially open for 2023. As the park prepares for the summer activities and events it will host, restoration goals for the S.S. Nenana and construction of a new restroom are also in the works for this summer.

Pioneer Park will begin their season with back to back events as they welcome visitors and plan for more events throughout the season. For the opening weekend, Pioneer Park will host a history day for which the park staff will dress in outfits from the gold rush era. That event will take place on Saturday May 27. “At noon we open all of the merchants in goldrush town, all of the cabin vendors. the train will be open for rides, mini golf, carousel and all the museums too,” said Lee Williams, the Superintendent of Pioneer Park.

Following history day, will be community day. Community day is on Sunday and exists as a chance for the park to give thanks to the public that supports it. Activities for kids will be free to the public including carousel rides, mini golf and train rides. There will also be gift bags handed out to the first 100 families to visit on Sunday, May 28.

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, the park will host a special event honoring soldiers. Weather abiding, an F-16 flyover is expected, plus speeches from Sen. Dan Sullivan and other leaders from the municipal governments.

While Pioneer Park will host a handful of events like most summers, the park is also undergoing the construction of a new restroom. The new restroom will replace an existing restroom located in the same place, next to the carousel. The new restroom is being built because the old one was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires public spaces to make accommodations for people in wheelchairs or those that have other disabilities. The new structure will also be heated which will allow for use in the winter.

Another project the park is working on, is the restoration of the S.S. Nenana. This project has been in the works for about two years and hasn’t seen progress due to contracting issues. “We’re still working on starting restoration of the boat which includes painting and replacing some of the wood that’s failed,” said Williams. “But, we’re currently moving forward with a project to shore up some of the cargo deck so we can open it by hopefully the end of the summer.” This will allow the public to at least have some access to the boat, primarily the areas that have photo’s, dioramas and informational boards about the ship, allowing visitors to learn more about the historic ship and the role it played in developing Fairbanks.