Leaders of the Pack

Dre Aduato, wearing polar bear hat, and Dan Duke, wearing Santa hat, lead a mad dash of participants in the annual Flagstaff Polar Plunge at Upper Lake Mary Jan. 1, 2017.

Jake Bacon, Arizona Daily Sun, file

A recent story on the Science Saturday page of the Arizona Daily Sun captured my attention. Seems a maintenance inspector was cruising around the Anchorage, Alaska, airport when he saw a pair of polar bears lumbering down a runway. Although probably in search of something edible, a local resident claimed the two were chasing after a just missed flight to a winter vacation den in Barrow, Alaska.

And speaking of Barrow, a bearded seal weighing over 500 pounds decided taking a nap on the town's lone runway was a good idea. This resulted in a warning to incoming planes about the possibility of "low sealings" while landing.

Numerous birds and the occasional musk ox are seen skulking on that airstrip, also, but never a seal of that size. The huge marine mammal was successfully removed by animal control officers to a more suitable snoozing site.

The chances of spotting a massively hirsute musk ox posturing stoically inside its bubble of glandular charisma on a Pulliam Airport runway is highly unlikely. But you can see some polar bear people plunging into Upper Lake Mary on New Year's Day at high noon.

And you can easily become one of those nearly bare folks by appearing on the Upper Lake Mary boat dock clad in your best Flagstaff swim wear (including sandals) with a large towel at the ready nearby. The entry fee is a canned good to be donated to the Flagstaff Food Bank and cheering spectators are always welcome to watch the

activities.

All Polar Bear Plunge participants will receive a Certificate of Achievement plus the golden opportunity to appear half-naked on the front page of the Arizona Daily Sun. Will the benefits ever cease? But this annual event can't happen without the aid of a few volunteer ice choppers – just in case the Weather Service forecast turns cold. If you can help, please call me at 714-0504.

There are two other Festivus events just before the Polar Bear Plunge worthy of your participation. On New Year's Eve there will be a snowshoe tramp in Buffalo Park starting at 6 p.m. What, no snow? We'll do a walk by the light of the moon anyway with our good friend Pat Benson as he points out the many intriguing sights that reside in our night sky.

And on New Year's Day morning there will be a cleanup of all the previous night's litter thrown earthward during the celebration in front of the Weatherford Hotel and the surrounding streets. All are welcome to join us inside the MIX Restaurant at 9 a.m. for a short gift card raffle and then head outside to pick up as much of the scattered trash as we can in 90 minutes.

And on another subject, my friend Deanna Toenjes, who has delivered the Arizona Daily Sun to my door for 20 years, is moving into a different field of endeavor. Deanna and her family have never failed to leave a promised newspaper on my back step. Their dedication to providing such excellent service has been awesome. And on a more personal note it's a pleasure to know Deanna and her family. They're the kind of people who make Flagstaff such a great place to live. They truly are the best. Thanks, Deanna!

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