Come browse through some of the local scenery, activities, animal life that you can expect to experience here in Petersburg, Alaska.
Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department, (PVFD) has a yearly Family Activity Day where they invite members of the community to bring the kids and explore the Fire Station and it’s three branches, Fire, Search and Rescue and EMS. They’re always looking for volunteers, so they also take the opportunity to ask people that show up to become part of their team.
The Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department (PVFD) responds to emergencies throughout the Petersburg Borough serving over 3,000 residents. Their primary response area is Service Area 1, however they do respond to emergencies outside Service Area 1. They respond on the road system via vehicles with personnel and equipment. They respond off of the road system and to remote locations via boat, fixed winged aircraft, or helicopter with personnel and equipment.
The Borough employs two people, Fire/EMS Director and Fire Marshal, to oversee the day-to-day activity of the Fire Department. These two positions work closely with the Volunteer Fire Chief to ensure the mission of the PVFD is being met and the Volunteers have adequate training and equipment to respond safely.
PVFD has three branches: Fire, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Search and Rescue (SAR). They have about 65 adult Volunteer members (17 fire, 13 EMS, 23 SAR, 11 Fire/EMS, and 1 Fire/EMS/SAR) on our roster. They also have a Junior Firefighter (JFF) program for youth ages 15-18 years old with eight Volunteer members on our roster.
The Fire Branch responds to fires, vehicle accidents, bad smells, fire alarms, small fuel leaks, carbon monoxide alarms, earthquakes, aircraft emergencies, building collapses, hazardous materials incidents, technical rescues, explosions, civil disturbances, terrorist attacks, etc. The firefighters regularly train three times per month. The Fire Marshal serves as the training officer for the Fire Branch.
The EMS Branch responds to all medical emergencies, medevac transports, assistance at the hospital, and fire related calls. The EMS personnel are trained from Emergency Trauma Technician (ETT) through Emergency Medical Technician 2 (EMT-2) and regularly train twice per month. The Fire/EMS Director serves as the training officer for the EMS Branch and works closely with the Medical Director to ensure the department stays in compliance with pre-hospital requirements.
The SAR Branch responds to all lost or missing person calls when requested by Alaska State Trooper and the public. They have assisted people stranded due to weather, tides, equipment failure, or injury. They also train in rope rescue techniques. They assist EMS and Fire when more personnel are needed.The SAR personnel regularly train twice per month. The Volunteer SAR Captain serves as the training officer for the SAR Branch.
The Junior Firefighter Program teaches young men and women the necessary skills to assist the Fire Branch in basic fire ground operations. Our goal is to have them develop a sense of public service, team work and leadership skills. The Junior Firefighters regularly train three times per month during the school year. This program is managed by adult Firefighters at the discretion of the Fire Chief.
In addition to responding to emergencies and attending training, the fire department volunteers sponsor community events such as dances, car washes, and family activity nights. We educate preschool through 5th grade students about fire safety with a Learn-Not-To-Burn program during Fire Prevention Week. We participate in the Community Health and Safety Fair and Child Safety Fair.
The Fire Department has two Fire Stations, a training tower/burn room, pump test pit, and 10 vehicles in its fleet. Station 1 is the main station where you can find the Career Staff, three 750 gallon Engines capable of pumping 1,250 gallons per minute, one 250 gallon Engine/Squad, two Basic Life Support/Advanced Life Support Ambulances, one SAR vehicle, and one Admin vehicle. Station 2 is located at Scow Bay and is unmanned. It houses one 750 gallon Engine capable of pumping 1,250 gallons per minute and one 3,500 gallon Water Tanker with a portable tank. The Training tower/burn room and pump test pit are also located at Station 2.
The Volunteer members have an Association to support the Department. The Association, known as Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. The Association can be contacted via mail at P.O. Box 75, Petersburg, AK 99833 or followed on Facebook.
Our 5th grade students created a mural of Martin Luther King Jr. out of Rubik’s Cubes and displayed them in the window of the real estate office of Anchor Properties. This colorful puzzle toy which was created in 1974 was put to good use to pay homage to one of Americas great leaders in the Civil Rights movement. The students learned quickly the math needed to solve a Rubik’s cube so teacher Sara Hadad-Dembs took the assignment to a more educational level.
Petersburg Alaska, located in the heart of southeast Alaska, has only one elementary and high school. Our elementary school ranks 52nd (2017) out of 187 public schools in the state and has a student/teacher ratio of 15 to 3. Teachers at Rae C. Stedman Elementary make learning fun with creative ways to teach students. This display was a great hands-on way of educating kids, on many levels, history and math together. The display was completed in time for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday and will continue to stay up through the month of February, black History month.
If you are around this fantastic fishing town swing by Anchor Properties, have a free cup of coffee and enjoy this tribute to one of America’s great leaders.
Petersburg Alaska hosted the 60th annual Syttende Mai in its town this year. In addition to the usual festival events there was a musical addition of Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers. Lots of singing, dancing, drinking, and Norwegian festivities for all were had during the festival week.
Residents and visitors, young and old alike dressed in Norwegian bunader (folk costumes) host as well as partake in the Festival events. Petersburg is transformed for the week in honoring their history and celebrating popular traditions. The rowdy Vikings and Valkyries stir up lighthearted mischief whenever and wherever they can.This annual celebration dates back to May 17th, 1958 when two local women, Bernadine Trones and Alma Wallen chaired the first Little Norway Festival in celebration of our unique Norwegian heritage. Syttende Mai or May 17th, celebrates the signing of Norway’s Constitution in 1814. Petersburg’s Little Norway Festival has grown to span the 3rd weekend of May and celebrates not only Norway’s Constitution, but U.S. Armed Forces Day, the coming of spring and beginning of the fishing season. Great music always plays a large part of the Festival fun and indoor and outdoor dances are scheduled for Friday & Saturday evenings. Art events include; the Annual Mitkof Mummer’s Melodrama written and produced each year by the local theatre group, a variety of artist receptions, and even rosemaling classes.. The heart of downtown is barricaded and booths line the street offering a variety of wares and information. Food, always an important aspect of any festival, ranges from traditional Alaskan Native fare and Petersburg’s world-class seafood to fine Norwegian delicacies. A parade, a walk/run race, a pageant, style shows, many dedications, receptions and open houses fill out the very full Annual Festival Schedule and insure entertainment for everyone.
A little late with the post… come swing in and say hi at our new office in downtown Petersburg Alaska. I must give a personal shout out to my most amazing husband Patrick McGrath for his craftsmanship in transforming the place and in making my desk (honed from a sentimental redwood tree). Our front lounge area is set up with coffee, tea, Le Croix, kids toys — something for everyone!
Anchor Properties brought the first ever pumpkin patch to Petersburg residents. Anchor Properties believes in giving back to the community and personally connecting with the people of the island. The proceeds from the pumpkin patch went to benefit the local non-profit public radio station, KFSK. This pumpkin patch was a hit! Several professionals grouped together to donate everything from pumpkins, to bounce houses and price cuts on shipping costs. The children of Petersburg loved the event. The Pumpkin patch was open for three weekends in October and had face painting, hot apple cider, Italian sodas, bounce house, hay maze, bubble machine, music, a fire going and laughter in the air. Rain or shine… people came and enjoyed themselves and gave to a good cause.
The last weekend of March found Alaska’s “Little Norway” fully entertained with their local performance of “Wearable Arts.” This annual event is put on by Petersburg’s award winning non-profit radio station, KFSK, and raises a lot of money for a great cause. This year’s theme was “Freaks of Nature” and exhibitors brought just that! There were a couple of costumes modeled at the event that travel the state and are shown at other events. Lots of LED lights, paint and thinking outside the box went into this event. Patrons enjoyed a light dinner put on by Petersburg’s newest culinary shop, Salty Pantry. The event was three days long and very well received.
Even the Norwegian town of Petersburg Alaska knows how to honor the Irish. This years parade was held amidst rain and snow but the marchers carried on proud of their heritage and history. This years parade had all walks of life join in on the fun; from children who were apart of their local girl scout troop organization to the nursing homes van with its wonderful residents aboard. The parade was a short and sweet one and ended in the atrium up at the long term care arm of the hospital. We love our little island nestled away in South East Alaska — bag pipes and green cookies were enjoyed by all! The luck of the Irish was amongst us!
Getting a glimpse of the Northern Lights, or “Aurora Borealis,” is usually at the top of the list for people visiting Alaska. People often think they have to travel far north to see them, but tourists visiting Petersburg, Alaska, can catch a glimpse of this spectacular light show too. These photos were taken right here in the heart of Petersburg by resident photographer Carey Carmichael Case, and perfectly capture the magnitude of the Northern Lights in this little fishing town.
While most people have heard of the Aurora Borealis, the origin of this unusual display of lights is less commonly understood. The “lights” we see are actually collisions between gaseous particles traveling from the sun into the earth’s atmosphere. This type of activity is only visible above the magnetic poles, and is called either “Aurora Borealis” (northern hemisphere) and “Aurora Australis” (southern hemisphere).
Each light show is different, and the colors depend on the type of gas particles colliding. The pale yellow-green that is most common is from lower-altitude oxygen molecules, and blues and purples come from nitrogen particles. Some people have seen the rare all-red aurora, which comes from high-altitude oxygen. The lights can appear in scattered patches, clouds, streamers, arcs, ripples, or rays that shoot across the sky. Each light show will be different from the last, and the only way to fully understand this breathtaking natural phenomenon is to experience it.
“Alaska’s Little Norway” is an ideal place to experience the Northern Lights, as well as an array of other unforgettable new experiences. If you’re ready to plan a trip or relocate to our island to see all of the wonderful things this little fishing town has to offer, we would love to assist you with your journey!
Planning a visit to Petersburg? Summer is by far the most popular time to visit, and with good reason — temperatures are pleasant and the sun doesn’t set until 8 or 9 at night, leaving plenty of time to hike, fish, and explore all the town has to offer. July is generally the peak tourist time in Alaska, so if you want to avoid some of the crowds and tourist prices, visiting toward the later part of August or even early September is ideal. Here are just a handful of activities you’ll want to be sure to work into your itinerary during a summer trip.
- Take a hike. Whether you’re in peak shape or haven’t broken in your hiking shoes yet, Petersburg offers trail options for all ages and experience levels. Some of our favorites include: Raven Trail, Three Lakes Trail, Man Made Hole, Ohmer Creek Trail. Plan a backpacking trip if you’re looking for some solitude, or book a cabin to use as your home base if you’d prefer a day hike.
- Perfect your fishing techniques. Try Blind River Rapids, which has salmon running up it, or make a day trip to any of the small lakes dotting the island to fish for trout. Dolly Varden trout and herring are plentiful in the harbor—and while you’re there, don’t forget to watch for sea lions from the docks. They are frequent visitors to the canneries, hoping for a scrap of fish.
- Go berry picking. Did you know there are almost 50 types of berries in Alaska? Berry picking is plentiful in Southeast Alaska, and for most types of berries is best in late July and August. Some of the varieties you’ll find include blueberries, huckleberries, salmonberries, and the elusive Nagoon berry, if you can find a local who will disclose their secret locations. If you don’t know your berries well, it’s best to pick up a book beforehand and learn what is and isn’t safe to eat — some berries, including all white-colored berries in Alaska, are poisonous. If you’re unsure, stick to you-pick farms and orchards, or ask a park ranger to look at your berry loot before consuming.
- Stroll through town. No trip to Petersburg is complete without a day spent browsing the local shops and restaurants in the historic downtown area. Here you’ll find a blend of fine art, souvenir items, and a taste of the town’s history. Make sure to bring home a handcrafted Alaskan item from a local artist and snap a picture of the local storefronts and homes featuring the Norwegian decorative painting style known as “rosmaling.”
- Take to the seas. Getting out on the water is a favorite summer activity of the locals! Book a sea kayaking trip or take to the open seas independently by renting boats or kayaks from one of the numerous rental companies. If you’re traveling with small children or are looking for a more relaxing way to enjoy the water, a cruise or marine charter is a great way to go whale watching and learn about the history of the area at a more leisurely pace.
Wild Iris Photography by Carey Carmichael Case – I’m based out of Petersburg, Alaska, the place I am lucky enough to call home. I love the outdoors, living in southeast Alaska, and photography. Being able to combine the three to produce an image is magic to me. I spend much of my time with my family – husband, two dogs, and my own wild Iris, my daughter who is 9 – out exploring this great place.
For additional images, or to contact me you can find Wild Iris Photography on Facebook.