Vladimir Netsvetayev, of Wasilla, arrived at the mouth of the Kenai River on Friday morning determined to dipnet enough sockeye salmon to feed his big family with plenty of fish for the year. But dipnetting made him hungry, and when a tent of Baptist mission volunteers arrived to hand out free food and drink, he was only too happy to devour three hot dogs and gulp down a glass of lemonade.
Netsvetayev said he didn’t mind that the volunteers handing out the hot dogs and refreshments had brought a religious presence to the beach. He said he is himself religious, and that although he saw a table of Bibles sitting out next to the hot dog table, no one approached him to engage in a conversation about God or Jesus.
Bruce Hazeltine, of Anchorage, said he is not religious, but appreciated the work the Baptist volunteers were doing. In addition to handing out hot dogs and refreshments, the Baptist volunteers also offered child care, trash pickup and help directing traffic.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” Hazeltine said. “Especially if they’re cleaning up. My God, who could be against that?”