Some people in Nome have come up with a way to celebrate New Year's Eve twice, in the Soviet Union and Alaska, thanks to bordering cities that are close geographically but nearly a full day apart on the world clock.
"Yes, it's possible," said Jim Stimpfle of the Nome Committee for Cooperation, Commerce and Peace with the Soviet Union. "Provideniya, USSR, is the first place on Earth to celebrate New Year's Eve, and Nome, Alaska, is the last place on Earth to celebrate New Year's Eve."Nome is on the west coast of Alaska, and Provideniya is on the east coast of the Soviet Union, on opposite sides of the International Dateline, 230 miles apart across the Bering Sea.
Bering Air's small planes make the trip between Nome and Provideniya in 75 minutes. Provideniya is 21 hours ahead of Nome.
Here's Stimpfle's idea: Leave Nome at noon on Dec. 30, arriving in Provideniya at 10:15 a.m. Dec. 31 - in plenty of time to celebrate New Year's Eve and maybe even get some sleep.
On the next morning, New Year's Day in Provideniya, fly back to Nome, arriving early on New Year's Eve to celebrate all over again.
"I think it would be a blast," said Lois Wirtz, director of the Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In fact, Wirtz thinks Stimpfle's idea is so splendid that she wants to recruit people to make the flight with her.
With the recent thaw in relations permitting Bering Air to fly charters between Nome and Provideniya, Stimpfle hit upon his brainstorm for a double New Year's Eve celebration.
Wirtz estimated that the flights would cost between $600 and $700 round trip. Since the cost is high for two days, she said she might try to arrange for flights to Provideniya a few days before New Year's Eve, but at an additional cost.
However, all this depends on Soviet approval, given that despite the easing of travel restrictions between Alaska and the Soviet Far East, visitors still must get visas and have their trips approved.