Eighteen hours, 16 minutes and 32 seconds. Summer begins, but so too does the countdown to winter.
As you read this, the clock has counted away a good portion of the longest day of the year and it’s difficult to decide whether to celebrate the gift of longer daylight or bemoan the signaling of an imminent ebb into darkness.
Officially, the Summer Solstice began the astronomical summer here Thursday at 9:04 p.m.
To mark the occasion, Steve Kocsis, a volunteer at the Marie Drake Planetarium, named his new baby pet rat Solstice, which he adopted Thursday. He said he was planning to celebrate with family and friends.
“It’s an important calendar marker,” Kocsis said. “We have few rituals in our culture, so it’s nice to celebrate something.”
Along with the many others who will likely celebrate the year’s longest day, the U.S. Forest Service cautioned bonfire-goers about the recent hot, dry weather circulating through the region and the high fire alerts for areas in the Tongass.
“Most fires are human caused,” District Ranger Marty Marshall of the U.S. Forest Service Juneau Ranger District said. “People will put their campfire out in good faith, but they don’t realize a lot of the dirt here is duff, so the fire can smolder and creep along and a week or two later flame up.”
Marshall insisted on the use of established fire rings that reach mineral soil. If fires are going to be built elsewhere, Marshall suggested they be built on areas below mean-high tide.
“The beauty of it is,” Marshall said, “depending on when high-tide occurs, it puts your fire out for you.”
Weather for the day will be mild, according to meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with a low chance of rain throughout the day through to the weekend.
On Saturday, roads will be closed for the fundraiser “Only Fools Run at Midnight” run and walk. The event begins at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday when runners will occupy the shoulders and sidewalks on the route through town.
Willoughby Avenue at West Third Street will close briefly for the start of the race as it routes through Glacier Avenue and concludes at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday at Centennial Hall.
• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.