The moment Pete and the Team crossed under the burled Arch in Nome to become the first Bethel Musher ever to win the Iditarod Trail Race, it was a given that Pete would want to say thanks to the folks at home.
Pete arrived into Nome in the early hours of the morning and the phone began ringing calling to say congratulations. In addition to calls from news organizations, sponsors, and others, everyone has been wanting to give Pete their best.
The Kuskokwim 300 and many others began organizing a welcome party almost as soon as Pete was inbound on Front Street. I called the Iditarod HQ and talked to CEO Chas St. George asking if we could borrow the trophy. It is an 80 lb cast bronze statue of Joe Redington and his Lead Dog “Feets.” Generally it is commissioned right after the race and delivered to the winner soon after. Our timeline was a bit quicker, so I contacted our great sponsor Northern Air Cargo and they were ecstatic to help out. Chas wrote me back and asked if we could save a couple of seats for “Joe” and himself. I thought we were going to have to ship him back, but upon arrival Chas had a decal and he said that it was to stay in Bethel. Ron affixed the decal and the party was underway.
The evening was catered by Tiffany Tony with help from Donlin Gold, the Kuskokwim 300, Alaska Commercial Company, and ODOM Corp.
The festivities began with Chris Cooke singing from his collection of dog mushing favorites, The Iditarod and Kuskokwim 300 songs. Senator Lyman Hoffman presented Pete with a legislative award that is presented to the top 10 mushers in the Iditarod.
Then it was time. Time to relive the moment that Pete arrived into Nome and crossed into history as the first musher from Bethel and of Yup’ik descent to win the Iditarod.
Iditarod CEO Chas St. George said that this was the dream of Joe Redington. To bring back mushing to rural Alaska and that Pete’s victory would have made him so proud.
Pete then came to the stage to a standing ovation where he reiterated that his victory and his mushing career would not be possible without support from all of you. It is what drives him to excel. It is what makes this a victory for all of his fans, family, sponsors, friends, and fellow residents.
After the festivities completed it was time for folks get their autograph from the Champ and enjoy the moment.
Thank you to everyone for the support you give to Kaiser Racing. All of the comments, calls, and pats on the back through thick and thin have made this victory possible.
Go Team Kaiser
Here are the photos from the event.