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Alaska Mushing District unveils part of project’s decorations

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 8:42 AM AKDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Mushing District coordinators are making strides in their efforts to bring history to light and help tourists better understand the significance of the area of Fourth Avenue and D Street.

Coordinators recently unveiled bronze paws and huskies sidewalk inlays. They are some of the first tangible pieces of the project that people can now see.

The decorations are a part of an effort to get donations. Each one has a name etched in it, allowing people to leave a piece of themselves in Downtown Anchorage.

“(It) is a place in the sidewalk that could be here for years, to years, to years to come,” said John McCleary, Fur Rendezvous executive director.

The Anchorage Mushing District project is an extension of the Fur Rendezvous operations. The new inlays are each a “paw” toward the finish line.

“Now, we have something that people can see, they can read, not just read a brochure or listen to our vision in presentations,” McCleary said. “Now, they can come down here and actually see that we truly are working towards creating the mushing district.”

But this project is meant to mark a beginning and the historical area, where the start of the Open World Championship Sled Dog Races and the Iditarod ceremonial start is usually held.

“Fur Rendezvous had this vision of creating an area that would be a tribute to the state sport of dog mushing, the mushers themselves, and also to show the visitors where all the races start,” he said.

The area is about embracing the state sport, downtown tourism and making downtown Anchorage vibrant.

The vision sparked back in 2009 and launched in 2016. The final product will incorporate things like an arch over the road, improving the mushers hall of fame and interpretive signs around the area, McCleary said.

“We’re now in the process of fundraising towards the bigger goal, and that is having the arch spanning Fourth Avenue just behind me at the start, finish lines of both the Open World Championship Sled Dog Races and the Iditarod,” he said.

Organizers hope to have this project finished late next year or in early 2023.

Fundraising is really what is needed now.

In the meantime, McCleary said light pole toppers are scheduled to be installed in the spring, and more sidewalk inlays are available to buy.

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