Alaska Editorial: Last call for endless nights out in Mat-Su

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2007

There's a great story told of an old Mat-Su area musher who used to get well and truly drunk at some watering hole, then go outside, flop into his sled and tell his dogs to take him home before he passed out.

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No substitute for a good lead dog, especially when you need a designated driver.

That was a different era. Besides, the dogs were sober and trotting a trail, not weaving down the Parks Highway.

Now the cities of the Mat-Su have grown and spread, and the valley has had to adapt to notions such as zoning and taxes and a local police force in Wasilla.

What about bar and liquor store hours?

The freedom to drink in a public house until 5 in the morning is one that Anchorage gave up in the early '80s, when the "10-to-2" coalition managed to cut bar and liquor store hours to more civilized times. The idea was to draw a stronger line against drunken driving, addiction and the rest of the miseries of alcohol abuse. If the law-abiding populace couldn't get their fill by 2 a.m. or so, too bad. Most thought that the loss of a little hard-bark, free-wheeling Alaska mystique was worth the trade for the gain of a little domestic tranquility.

More than 25 years later, bars and liquor stores continue to thrive. Wine and stronger spirits still gladden the heart. Drunken drivers remain a menace, but there's a little more wee-hours domestic tranquility. A 2 o'clock last call hardly qualifies as prohibition.

The valley has resisted, and still parties later. That's led to some Anchorage traffic going north - not a caravan, but enough to notice - to dance and drink until the clock strikes 5.

Revelers who take to the road at 2 a.m. for the 40- to 50-mile drive to the valley probably shouldn't be behind the wheel. Whether from Anchorage or local, some late-drinking partyers are likely to be more trouble.

Should Mat-Su bars and liquor stores close earlier?


Wasilla? Palmer? Wrap it up at about 2. That's time enough for patrons to make merry and innkeepers to make money. And give everybody a better chance to make it home.

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