We have reached that point in the season where we don’t get a lot of direct sunlight in Dawson City’s historic townsite. Those who live the Dome subdivisions – which I refer to as Literary Heights because all the streets are named for authors – do continue to get a short view of Ol’ Sol all through the winter.
Down here in town, however, we’re in a bit of a bowl, with sunshine coming to us from the east, south and west when the planet’s axial tilt permits.
Shortly before we switched from Daylight Savings to Standard Time, the sun stopped clearing the largest of the hills across the river – and we lost an hour of evening direct sunlight right away. Then we changed our clocks and lost another hour a bit later.
However, the planet kept turning and tilting, and the sun’s arc moved more and more to the south as it grew shallower and shallower. Eventually it stops clearing the tops of the mountains south of town and ceases to actually hit the streets in town any longer.
It does still hit the hills across the river and the Moosehide Scar on the hill north of town. Between the two of them we get some indirect reflected light that lasts for several weeks before the winter Solstice, and picks up again in January before the streets feel the sun again.
Dawson’s always been fairly big on Christmas seasonal lighting, but for the last two years the town has taken the lead in encouraging homes and businesses to shine in the coming darkness during late November and on past New Years.
Three years ago the recreation department ordered a set of seasonal lights to display along Front Street’s Waterfront Park. They arrived too late to set up that year, but have been up now for the past two.
The annual Christmas Open House that used to take place in the town council chambers has been replaced by a Celebration of Lights in late November. This is a gathering at the enclosed picnic shelter at the south end of the park, that features caroling (led by my wife’s kids’ choir from St. Paul’s) as well as food, and a fun run event, a fire in the pit near the Tribute to the Miner statue and general good cheer, followed by a enthusiastic countdown to flipping the switches that turn on the lights.
It was a bit chilly this year in the shelter. One of the propane heaters was intermittent, and the canvas curtains still leave a gap at the bottom of each section of the otherwise open walls. People kept leaving the double doors open at the building’s north end. That said, it was still a fun event
Residents and businesses are encouraged to start using their lights on the same day, which happened to be November 27 this year, and to brighten up our winter darkness as much as possible for the next month.
There are prizes for the best display, but the real reward is the way it makes the streets much more cheerful this time of year.