Maybe it's because Alaska is so far away from what we like to call the “lower 48.” Maybe it's that whole "midnight sun" thing. Or maybe the state’s 750,000 residents just really like to be different.
Whatever the reasons, people who live in Alaska have some particular quirks and habits that set them apart from the rest of the country. When I first moved to Alaska, it took me some time to get used to these things; now I realize these qualities don't just make Alaskans stand out, they also make our communities fun and welcoming places to call home.
Without further ado, here are five ways Alaskans are unlike anyone else...
1. Everyone in the state has a mutual friend.
At over 663,000 square miles, Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas, yet has a population smaller than that of the city of San Francisco. But even with all of that land mass, Alaskans are tightly connected to one another through mutual friends or family. When chatting with someone new, it usually doesn't take long to discover a shared friend or colleague. This makes it easy to network, develop new friendships, and just enjoy the comforting, small-town feeling that comes from everyone knowing everyone.
2. Our license plates tell a story.
Forget 140 characters, can you communicate your enthusiasm or opinions in six? If so, this unique Alaskan habit might be for you. Thanks to no extra fees for the service, personalized vehicle tags are all the rage for Alaskans (there's even an Instagram account, @AlaskaPlates, dedicated to documenting the unique vanity plates around the state).
Beyond the six character space limit, the only state rule for customizing is that tags not contain “ethnic, racial or vulgar connotations.” That means you’ll be able to get in “ILUVAK,” but not “COLDAF.” SOSRY.
3. We have fireworks … on Thanksgiving.
You’re out of luck if you want to salute America with a glorious fireworks display on Independence Day. With nearly 24 hours of daylight in early July, you can’t exactly see them explode in the sky at that time of year. But you can enjoy them on Thanksgiving when there’s less than seven hours between sunrise and sunset. After all, nothing says “thankful” like post-turkey fireworks at the local church or community center.
4. “We can’t — it’s the summer.”
Think you’re going to make plans with an Alaskan in the summer months? Unless it revolves around hiking or another outdoor adventure, think again. Alaskans don’t let the dark and cold keep them from enjoying the outdoors in the winter, but they do have a special appreciation for the beautiful weather and long hours of sunshine between May and mid-August. Don’t be surprised if an Alaskan doesn’t respond to your voicemail until early September.
5. Remember renting movies? We still do that.
Thanks in part to expensive internet service and data caps on home internet that make streaming a challenge, it’s still possible to “make it a Blockbuster night” in Alaska. Although the movie rental chain closed almost all of its locations several years ago, Alaska is still home to a handful of franchised Blockbuster storefronts across the state. So grab some stale Red Vines and pick your favorite newly released DVD or classic movie for a night in. Just keep in mind when we say, "Blockbuster and chill" here, we mean it literally.