Dozens of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race mushers took a bow in downtown Anchorage Saturday, as crowds at the race's ceremonial start cheered them ahead of their long journey to Nome.

For many young Alaskans cheering in the crowds, the 67 mushers' dogs stole the show as teams traveled down snow-covered 4th Avenue before heading south across Anchorage.

“I like that they run so fast,” said William Reckley from Wasilla.

“All the dogs, they're so cute,” said Nyah Smith of Anchorage.

“I like seeing them rush past us," said Norah Simon of Anchorage.

Visitors from the Lower 48 also fell in love with the dogs as they rushed by.

“Oh my gosh -- these animals are just absolutely gorgeous, so this is so exciting to see this start,” said Arizona resident Lori Shinn. “It makes me want everyone to win.”

"Just the excitement of all the dogs running, getting excited to go," said Sylvia Flowers of Kentucky.

“It's awesome," said Kevin Ramey from Missouri. "This is my first time coming to be at anything like this; it's pretty awesome.”

“I just love the dogs, I mean there is every color," said Connie Miller from Arizona. "Some have light eyes, some have darks; I just love them.” 

"It's a really iconic race and we wanted to be apart of it,” said Brook Ramey, a visitor from Kentucky.

Some spectators even traveled overseas to witness the Iditarod for the first time.

“Very great, we've been in the United States for a week now from Norway to New York to Tennessee and now we are seeing the Iditarod,” said Gelenn Pedersn from Norway.

A wide array of Iditarod mushers shared the crowd’s excitement Saturday, including "Mushin' Mortician" Scott Janssen who carried a live camera on his sled along with an Idita-Rider and briefly wrecked on a turn as he headed south through Anchorage.

“Today I'm just going to joke around and play and have fun with my dogs, and all the people that are around,” Janssen said.

“It's all fun and just like a parade-type feeling,” said musher Anna Berington.

“It's a busy, fun time, that makes us feel like we're rock stars in Anchorage this weekend,” said four-time champion Jeff King.

“I like getting to be closer to people instead of being out in the wilderness and stuff,” said musher Meredith Mapes. “It's nice to have a day where everybody gets all excited for you too.”

“I mean, my goodness, why not showcase what you love to do in front of tens of thousands of people?” said second-place finisher Aliy Zirkle.

The Iditarod formally begins at 2 p.m. Sunday in Willow, as mushers begin traveling to Nome.

KTVA is the official TV station of the Iditarod, and will have extensive coverage of Sunday's restart.

Liz Raines contributed information to this story.

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