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Cicely, Alaska - The rural comedy-drama NORTHERN EXPOSURE/CBS/1990-95 featured the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska (population 215) which played host to a group of quirky but likable rural folk, both white and Eskimo.

In the springtime, just before the ice begins to crack, all the citizens of Cicely, Alaska (known as the "Riviera of the North") exhibit an inexplicable craziness as they await the ice meltdown. It culminates with the men of Cicely rushing stark naked through town in freezing temperatures (a la "The Running of the Bulls" during the Fiesta of San Fremin in Pamplona, Spain).

The Alaskan Eskimo Indians celebrate the annual holiday of Thanksgiving as "The Day of the Dead." Among the parades, costumes and other festivities, there was the custom of "throwing tomatoes at white people." The vegetable vengeance portrayed was a comic jab at the cultural relationship between the Native Americans and their Johnny-come-lately European Newcomers.

Citizens of Cicely, Alaska - NORTHERN EXPOSURE
Citizens of Cicely, Alaska

The residents of this strange little northern hamlet include:

  • Rob Morrow as Joel Fleischman, a Jewish yuppie doctor transplanted from New York City to work off his medical scholarship
  • Elaine Miles as Marilyn Whirlwind, the doctor's plump Eskimo receptionist
  • Janine Turner as Maggie O'Connell, an independent but likable bush pilot; Darren E. Burrows as Ed Chigliak, an Eskimo teenager with a passion for motion pictures
  • Barry Corbin as Maurice Minnifield, a former astronaut who founded the town
  • John Corbett as Chris Stevens, the philosophical deejay
  • John Cullum as Holling Vincouer, the local barkeep
  • Peg Phillips as Ruth Anne, a down-to-earth storekeeper
  • Cynthia Geary as Shelly Tambo, the town teenage nymphet

On the 5/18/92 episode "Cicely," a 108-year-old visitor to Cicely chronicles  the history of the town of Cicely once know as "The Paris of the North," revealed that the town was founded in 1909 by a free-thinking lesbian named Cicely and her companion, Roslyn.

TRIVIA NOTE: The town used as the backdrop for Cicely was actually the old coal mining town of Roslyn, Washington (population 869) located seventy-one miles east of Seattle on Interstate 90 in the Yakima Valley, across Snoqualmie Pass area from Puget Sound.

The real Roslyn, Washington (officially named on the 10th of August, 1886) was named for Roslyn, New York the hometown of the girlfriend of Logan Bullitt, Vice-President of the Northern Pacific Coal Company.

The show's producers scouted more than five states in the Pacific Northwest and Canada to find the place to be the fictional location of this offbeat adventure drama. Roslyn, reportedly was the site of an 1892 bank robbery by the outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Cicely town sites now familiar to loyal viewers include the Roslyn Cafe seen in the opening credits; and the Brick, the oldest bar in Washington (over 100 years old). The Brick was the inspiration for Holling's tavern. Additional interior shot were filmed in the town of Redmond, located about an hour from Roslyn.

The constant notoriety, flow of tourists, filming schedule, and parking restrictions that disrupted the day-to-day quiet of this town during production rubbed some of the town's residents (mostly retired miners) the wrong way. So despite the $3,000 that the show brought to Roslyn with each day of shooting of NORTHERN EXPOSURE, some 136 residents of the town signed a petition in 1991 that asked the show's producers to pack up and leave their town alone.

 Cicely, Alaska - NORTHERN EXPOSURE


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