In 1934, Fairbanks had its first Winter Carnival to celebrate Spring and the passing of Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act. At that first Carnival the Pioneers selected their first King & Queen Regent, and the general public voted for the Carnival King and Queen from amongst the younger population. Today, even though we no longer have the parade, games, Carnival royalty, dances, barbecue and the like; we still have Pioneer King and Queen Regents and Spring dog races. Since that first Carnival, the Pioneers have continued their part of the tradition only missing a few coronation years due to World War II. Here is how it all began:
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - March 10, 1934
Parade and Coronation Inaugurate Two Days of Fun and Frolic Here
Fairbanks’ First Winter Carnival was inaugurated today. By command of the royal rulers of the event, all residents of the community and its many visitors will “mush the trail of fun and frolic” until tomorrow night. Warm temperatures favored the beginning of festivities this forenoon and a bright sun shone on participants in sports events this afternoon.
The program began with a colorful parade. It started at the Public-School House. The line of march was through the principal streets of the city to the Ice Throne on the shore of the Chena River, where the coronation ceremonies took place.
The parade was led by R. E. Sheldon and John Miller in carnival costumes. They were followed by the Fairbanks Band, directed by V. F. Jacobs. Next came the Moose Float of excellent appearance, followed by men and women members of the order, and then the automobile containing the Royal party, which consisted of Queen Sylvia Schmidt, King Pat O’Connor, Pioneer Queen Regent Catherine Van Curler, Pioneer King Regent William N. Craigie, Ladies-in-Waiting Charlotte Wehner and Virginia Rothhacker and Gentlemen-in-Waiting Edward Stroecker Jr., and Fritz Boyle.
Following the Royal car, (which by the way was the automobile in which the late President Harding rode when he visited Fairbanks) came the Pioneer’s Float and a column of members of the Pioneers of Alaska. They wore trail mushing attire, being equipped with snow shoes and carrying packs. This section of the parade was a striking feature.
After the Pioneers’ division came the high schools’ contingent, with its band. The concluding section of the parade was made up of grade school children.
At the Ice Throne, Paul J. Rickert, president of the Carnival Association, crowned the Carnival Queen and King and then the Pioneer King & Queen Regents. The bands played the Carnival song, which had been composed and arranged by Mrs. L. L. Hufman, who originated the Carnival idea and to whose untiring efforts much of the success of the affair may be attributed.
Mrs. C. E. Murray took a leading part in arranging the details of the parade as she has in many of the other activities of the Carnival.
The King Regent then formally announced the opening of the Winter Carnival.
“My beloved people: —It is my royal prerogative to declare this Farthest North Carnival open. The first number of the festivities will be the dog race which starts exactly at 12 o’clock. Three speeds ahead. Everybody mush the trail of fun and frolic.”
Note: On March 11, 2018, the Fairbanks Pioneer King & Queen Regents, Frank and D. A. McGilvary were crowned at the 80th Fairbanks Pioneers' Coronation ceremony. It is one of the last events left of the old Winter Carnival celebration and a real bit of living history. The Pioneer Museum has a nice photo display that depicts the 80 years of these Pioneer Regents. This regal history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.