Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Windows to the Past: The Ugly Dachshund and the Fur Rondy

Sure, you could look at this picture and assume that a team of sled dogs has arrived in town to see one of their own on the big screen.  A whimsical scenario certainly, but alas not an accurate one.

The location is Anchorage, Alaska.  The time is late February of 1966.  The occasion is the annual Fur Rendezvous, or the Fur Rondy, as it has come to be known in recent years.  The Rondy is a 75-year tradition; it began in 1935 and quickly became an annual celebration of Alaskan history and heritage.  The festival originated at a time of the year when miners and fur trappers would return to Anchorage with their winter yields.  Sled Team 14, seen in the above image, is preparing to line up for the World Championship Sled Dog Race, a Rondy tradition that began in 1946.  Coincidentally, Walt Disney's feature film The Ugly Dachshund is the top-billed attraction at the nearby 4th Avenue Theatre.  The film's original release date was February 2, 1966.

Ah, but the Walt Disney's connection to the 1966 Rondy extended beyond the 4th Avenue Theatre.  Standing at a place of honor on the race's trophy table?  Why none other than Nikki, star of the 1961 Disney feature Nikki, Wild Dog of the North.

Photographs are from the Alaska Digital Archives.