Getting wet is written in the rulebook for the Nome River Raft Race, and there are a few ways to do it. When the teams of four pile onto rafts at Mile 13.5 of the Kougarok Road outside of Nome, it’s recommended they also pack an arsenal of water balloons and squirt guns. Teams take every opportunity to soak each other, and even spectators get into the action. It’s typical for those watching to bring buckets of water to dump on rafters from a strategic vantage point on the Nome River Bridge.
Rafts are all homemade, but that’s where similarities end. Some are bare-bones and streamlined for speed. Others sport coolers or portable chairs for a more relaxed cruise. With names like “Howling Dogs,” “River Rats,” and “Musk Ox Sally,” there’s plenty of inspiration for teams to decorate their rafts or don costumes that promote the solstice spirit of fun and festivity.
At the finish line at Dexter (if not already wet), the entire team must be submerged under water.
This annual Midnight Sun event takes place on the Sunday closest to June 21. It’s sponsored by the Bering Sea Lions Club, which also sells snacks and drinks at the finish line for hungry participants and spectators.