JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson plans to host Winter Fest 2017, a free, annual event with base access at the Hillberg Ski Area scheduled for Dec. 21.
“The origins of this annual event began as a small gathering, ushering in the winter season.” said Karl Lavtar, Outdoor Adventure Program director and manager of the Hillberg ski and snowboard Lesson Center. “Over the last several years it has developed into quite a large-scale, morale building, resiliency program for JBER.”
Activities scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. throughout the Hillberg Ski Area, Lodge and Hillberg Lake include: skiing and tubing sessions, professional face-painting, prize drawings and more. Gingerbread house building and ornament decorating will be offered while supplies last. Santa will be available for pictures from 2 to 5 p.m. at the lodge.
Additionally, from noon to 5 p.m., patrons will be able to ride snowmachines and dog sleds. Individual’s wanting to partake in ice fishing and who need to purchase a fishing license prior to the event can do so at Outdoor Recreation or the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
In the last two years, more than 3,000 people have attended the event. Parking in the Hillberg Ski Area only allows up to 700 vehicles, so it is highly recommended participants use the free shuttle service, available every 30 minutes, from Talkeetna Theater (Elmendorf side) and the Warrior Zone (Richardson side). Volunteers will be handing out parking passes at the Hillberg Ski Area for those needing to park nearby.
“The great thing about people taking the shuttle is it will drop them off right at the sponsor tent, which is the starting place for everything,” Lavtar said. “At the time people are dropped off, they will be presented with a passport card for the sponsors of the event to stamp. Once the card is full and submitted for the drawings, the participant will be eligible for some amazing prizes.”
This year, some of the larger prizes are valued at more than $400 dollars. Prizes include a ruggedized cooler, an Alaska cruise as well as various gift cards. Individuals can sign up for tubing sessions and get more information and locations for each activity at the sponsor tent.
For single service member’s free rentals, skiing, snowboarding and music is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“I see Winter Fest as a means of giving newcomers to JBER a tremendous opportunity to try various winter activities – perhaps ones they have never been exposed to for free,” said Senior Master Sgt. Shane Holtz, 673d Force Support Squadron, career assistance advisor and Winter Fest volunteer for two years. “These types of events are meant for service members to have opportunities to relax and have some fun with their coworkers, neighbors and families; ultimately building on resiliency.”
The event offers an all-inclusive approach for service members, base employees and their families to enjoy the unique winter activities inherent to Alaska.
“We would love to see as many people as possible come out and enjoy this amazing and completely free event,” Lavtar said.
For more information, call 552-3812 or visit www.jberlife.com.