Rural Alaska

Breakup Bash: Bethel celebrates as river ice moves on the Kuskokwim River

BETHEL –– News of the Kuskokwim River’s breakup spread fast around town Thursday evening, and by the next day, open water glistened in the sunshine.

Bethel’s annual Breakup Bash is held each year after river ice goes out in front of town, tripping the Kuskokwim Ice Classic tripod –– which stopped this year at 6:05 p.m. May 5. This signals the end of winter and is celebrated at the riverfront with hot dogs, music and dancing.

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 precautions, people were eager to attend the event with friends and family. Members of the Bethel Regional High School Warrior Dancers performed and volunteers passed out grilled hot dogs by the handful.

Ardyce Turner said on Friday that she saw her first robin and is looking forward to the return of the cranes and smelts, a fish she described as being similar to hooligan.

Along the riverfront, young children threw rocks into the water and darted between groups as they kicked up dust that was carried away by the breeze.

Emily Mesner

Emily Mesner is a multimedia journalist for the Anchorage Daily News. She previously worked for the National Park Service at Denali National Park and Preserve and the Western Arctic National Parklands in Kotzebue, at the Cordova Times and at the Jackson Citizen Patriot in Jackson, Michigan.