Fifty years of change. Consider for a moment how different Alaska would be today if it never became a state.
Nine distinguished Alaskans - among them two delegates to the 1955-56 Alaska constitutional convention, the last territorial governor, a Native leader, a top economist, an oil man, a historian, a journalist and a statehood critic who wants Alaska to secede from the union - tried to imagine the difference.
While their opinions varied, they generally echoed several of the reasons Alaskans in the 1950s voted five-to-one for statehood. Living in a territory had disadvantages, they said. Outside corporations often ruled. Governance came from afar. Alaskans were second-class citizens.
All that began to change on Jan. 3, 1959, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower picked up his pen, smiled at the gathered dignitaries - then signed the document that made Alaska the 49th state.
But what if all that never happened?
"It would be radically different," says Claus Naske, professor emeritus of history at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and author of "Alaska - A History of the 49th State."
In what way?
Read George Bryson's full article online tomorrow, or pick up the special statehood edition of the Anchorage Daily News in newsstands tomorrow.
• Anchorage Museum -- "Life in Alaska Leading to Statehood," a new exhibit opens.
• The 50th Anniversary Gala, 6:30 p.m. at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. Entertainment includes the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, the Anchorage Concert Chorus, Alaska Native dancers, opera singers and Sitka's New Archangel Dancers. Outgoing Mayor Mark Begich, Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski are scheduled to appear. The event is sold out, but organizers are taking names for a waiting list. Call 279-7500. Cost is $200 per person.
Chugiak/ Eagle River
• Remembering the Past, 1-3 p.m. at the Elsie Oberg Community Center. Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society hosts displays of local photos and artifacts. Hear recollections from territorial days by people here at the time of statehood.
• Musical Performances, 7 p.m. at the Eagle River Lions Club. Music by the Mirror Lake Middle School Jazz Band, Robin Hopper and Eric Braendel.
• U.S. Postal Service issuance of the Alaska Statehood Stamp, 11:30 a.m. at the Hotel Captain Cook.
• Delegate procession and lighting of the cauldron, 3:30 p.m. at corner of Seventh Avenue and E Street.
• Celebration of the Alaska Statehood Act, 4-8 p.m. at the Dena'ina convention center, the Egan Center and the Alaska Center for Performing Arts. Free music, other entertainment, kids activities and exhibits. Go to adn.com for a detailed listing.
• Fireworks, 8:15 p.m. at Town Square Park.
Chugiak/ Eagle River
• Celebration of Statehood, 8 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. at Eagle River Lions Park. Free pancake feed 8-10 a.m.; dog weight-pull contest noon to 4 p.m.; bonfire, keynote by Gov. Sarah Palin and fireworks 5-6:15 p.m.
Other events are planned Saturday for around the state, including Kodiak, Valdez, Fairbanks, Nome, Unalaska and Juneau.
The Mat-Su daylong celebration has been postponed until Jan. 10. Festivities will begin at 2 p.m. at the Iditapark.