2002: Having Fun with the Midnight Sun (Evening Magazine)

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By John Stofflet
Evening Magazine
06/24/2002

2002: At Midnight

What would you do if it didn’t get dark at night? Play 24 hours a day? Well, the folks in Fairbanks and the other northern towns in Alaska have a hard time hitting the sack this time of year.

In summer it is light for most of the night and that means you often forgo sleep in favor of having fun.

Imagine a land where the cows dance under a midnight sun, where huge veggies grow, where the ice cream man is out in the middle of the night, and where you golf and bat all night through.

People eagerly march into summer the third week a June.

Fairbanks is only 160 miles from the Arctic Circle and that means it’s more than just home to the northernmost Denny’s in the world. It means, when summer begins on the summer solstice, the sun is out about 22 hours a day, dipping below the horizon for only a couple hours in the middle of the night, creating just sort of a twilight.

We wondered, what it’s like living under a midnight sun. Do these people ever sleep? What happens to their love lives?

The Alaska Goldpanners baseball team and their fans certainly enjoy it.

Every year on the solstice, they play a game that doesn’t get underway until 10 p.m. and lasts as late as 2 a.m. And they don’t even have to turn on the lights.

They’re so used to day games at night, they think it’s funny those of us in the lower 48 find this unusual.

And where else but in Fairbanks would you find a run getting started at 10 p.m. with costumed runners celebrating summer.

Things grow huge up there under the intense sun – 70-pound cabbages, colossal carrots and cauliflower, mushrooms that would send a salad chef searching for a chainsaw.

From the gardens to the greens, there’s plenty of action thanks to the all night sun.

They say you’ll find golfers out here at 4 a.m.

If you do want to snooze and just can’t get used to sleeping while it’s light? Some folks find tin foil to be a good light blocker, but it doesn’t always work.

When you make your living selling ice cream in Alaska, you better believe a sunny summer night is a welcome sight.

About the only place you’ll find things a little quieter during the summer is at the make-out spots where the midnight sun isn’t really your friend.

But when winter does roll around, during the darkest time, it’s night for 22 hours a day.

We also wondered what happens to the crime rate during the light nights of summer. Police in Fairbanks say it doesn’t really change from the dark days of winter.

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