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Shining Lights on Winter Solstice

By Lacie Grosvold, Multimedia Journalist, lgrosvold@ktuu.com
Published On: Dec 21 2013 09:19:00 PM AKST
EAGLE RIVER -

More than 100 people gathered at the Eagle River Nature Center on the darkest day of the year to shine a little light.

The nature center hosted its 18th Annual Lantern Walk in honor of Winter Solstice. 

Fire jugglers kicked off the event at 6 p.m., with the two-person crew twirling fire on hula hoops, balls hanging from chains and a stick.

"Don't try this at home," said a performer before he appeared to swallow fire.

Children in the audience sat still watching the performance: "Do you think he has fireproof lotion on?" one boy asked a friend. 

When the performance winded down, people of all ages made the trek to the bonfire.

Attendees lit candles held in votives made of ice, and children carried handmade lanterns.

From a distance, the procession just looked like bulbs of light bouncing in the trees.

Asta Spurgis, the center's director, said "all the snow in the trees makes for a magical forest evening."

At the end of the path, a bonfire blazed, and next to that, a smaller fire burned. This one had the sole purpose of melting marshmallows for children hungry for sweets.

Children clustered around the fire with sweet treats sticking to their hands and faces. Further off in the center's yurt, people enjoyed hot dogs, cookies and other food.

In a time when most people find the constant darkness tiring, volunteer Candy Stanley said the little event makes a big splash.

"This sort of thing is wonderful," Stanley said. "Everyone should do this in all of these dark areas."

The evening festivities and food serves as a reminder that the sun will shine a little longer tomorrow.

Editor's note: Candy Stanley's name has been corrected from Cindy Stanley, as it appeared in an initial version of this story.