SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Joey Garcia


September 30, 2010
Thursday AM

Year end and year out, the Salmon Capital of the World, the Gateway City, resembles a city where the residents are deprived of the summer fun, except for the repair of the drainage systems and the refurbishing of paint along crosswalks and parking areas.

Workers seen and unseen are also considered seasonal, like the erratic weather. The annual influx of sports fishers that clogged lodges and fishing villages, the non-committed tourists, the float planes rise of revenues, even the free rides to shopping centers, the lone water taxi service, delayed flights of Alaska Airlines from Anchorage and Juneau, the inefficiently of the Borough's handling of THE International Airport, are but a sore sight when winter comes.

Come winter time, Ketchikan becomes a ghost city. Leashed dogs are seen along the ports, young people twist the yellow barriers for their challenged game of roller blading, pubs are empty, the whole dock stores, except Tongass Trading and some Pop and Mom stores, the Pioneer Cafe, remain alive and doing service to the locals.

Are the local Ketchikanians being served by the government? Are they (government) only relying on tourist or visiting sports people from the lower 48 States, depriving the locals the right to spend their money in and around Ketchikan? If the City of Ketchikan could require businesses to serve the locals in an all year round kind of services, then it will be a happy city, I think.

Why are the fish processing workers leaving Ketchikan when there is a slow down of fish? Simply because of the absence of governmental functions that die after the summer season. I do not condone the City and the Borough for not putting a study to serve the locals rather than the visitors. Question is, what will Ketchikan be when cruise ships stop to ply their routes?

Does the part of Ketchikan that does not rely on the locals (only to get their PFD's), nor avail of the winter fun, just instead join the bears hibernating?

I arrived in Ketchikan 5 years ago. When I docked at the ferry from a 2 night trip from Bellingham, I sensed that the city itself becomes alive with tourists jaywalkers, Port Security manning their posts, buses ferrying people to destinations, tour guides that offer services right from the dockside, is like visiting Disneyland.

Having nowhere to go, I decided to fuse into the locals, learn what to do during winter time. It is a hard challenge having been in places in the lower 48 States, running 20-25 mph, like cruising along the boardwalks of Santa Barbara, the do not enter signs going uphill after 1st Avenue because of snow accumulation, and the lack of where to go. It is a city for retirees that seldom go out except stay in their rooms looking at TV and having food delivered, if they are lucky, by open restaurants. But these challenges have meet my desires for an active life, a life where coat and tie has been obsolete, the challenges of wearing Carhartt's, North Face's, and thermals were the mode of my days. I do not mind wearing a made in China hood lined with fleece to keep the cold out. I became active amidst the erratic weather pattern. But are we contented?

The City government should begin to study that the locals can have fun during winter time. The vacant spaces along the docks can be used for a weekly swap market, a rubberized children's play stations, a kayak race perhaps, and with stores opened for the locals to spend. Ketchikan lodges in both the north and south should offer the locals fishing expeditions as what they offer during summer time.

I stake my claim in Ketchikan this it is the best place I have visited and will remain here as long as I live.

Joey Garcia
Ketchikan, AK


Received September 28, 2010 - Published September 30, 2010



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