Drummers with the Ati-Atihan Juneau Group make their way along Franklin Street during Juneau’s annual Fourth of July parade on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Drummers with the Ati-Atihan Juneau Group make their way along Franklin Street during Juneau’s annual Fourth of July parade on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A misty-eyed Fourth of July parade through downtown salutes Juneau’s youth

Trio of recent high school graduates serving as grand marshals share memories, hopes, candy.

As high school graduates honored with their choice of a new vehicle, Mackenzie Lam opted for a pickup truck so a bunch of friends could ride along in the back, while Alexis Juergens and Kyra Wood chose to ride with their families in SUVs with the tops open despite the occasional light rain.

The three graduates served as the grand marshals in this year’s Fourth of July parade through downtown Juneau on Thursday morning, so they only got to spend about an hour riding in the vehicles while tossing large amounts of candy and trinkets toward the crowds lining both sides of the streets. While the rain got heavy enough at times to get spectators soggy, it wasn’t enough to send many scattering.

Alexis Juergens, a Raven Homeschool graduate named one of three grand marshals of Juneau’s Fourth of July Parade, waves from a vehicle as it begins the parade route through downtown on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Alexis Juergens, a Raven Homeschool graduate named one of three grand marshals of Juneau’s Fourth of July Parade, waves from a vehicle as it begins the parade route through downtown on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

While the trio of students shared the honorary designation, they took individual approaches to being among the leaders of the parade — and had different memories from the parades they’ve watched and participated in with groups they were a part of growing up.

Juergens, a Raven Homeschool graduate who has been part of the parade’s color guard as a member of the Civil Air Patrol Squadron, was — like the other grand marshals — selected for her academic and activity achievements in recognition of this year’s parade theme “Juneau Youth Soaring Into The Future.” She said part of the preparation process for the parade involved visiting a local auto dealership to pick a suitable vehicle — truck or SUV — for the slow-moving journey, opting to go with the latter.

“We’re gonna take the top off,” she said. “It’ll be fun. It might be raining, but that’s OK. We’re Alaskans.”

“That’s a pretty big birthday,” she said. “And for a country…maybe some sort of military weapon.”

Mackenzie Lam, one of three grand marshals of Juneau’s Fourth of July parade, passes out candy from the back of a truck on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Mackenzie Lam, one of three grand marshals of Juneau’s Fourth of July parade, passes out candy from the back of a truck on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Lam, valedictorian of the final class at Thunder Mountain High School before it was officially converted to a middle school three days before Independence Day, was accompanied by about 10 family members and peers (including several members of TMHS’ volleyball team), hence the reason for selecting a truck with sufficient room in the bed for many of them. Also in the back was a considerable supply of candy and a large box of toy pinwheels.

Past memories of the parade are more about watching than participating, since the last time being in it “I was like seven for my school, but I don’t remember much,” Lam said. Standing out as the most memorable as an observer is the Ati-Atihan Juneau Group which, repeating a past feat, won the Best of Parade Award from the Juneau Festival Association that organizes the parade.

Kyra Wood, one of three recent high school graduates serving as grand marshals of Juneau’s Fourth of July parade, tosses candy from a vehicle along the route through downtown on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Kyra Wood, one of three recent high school graduates serving as grand marshals of Juneau’s Fourth of July parade, tosses candy from a vehicle along the route through downtown on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Wood, recognized by the festival association for arts and academic achievements at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, spend Thursday morning’s parade tossing chocolate coins and other items at the crowd. He said it was markedly different than the last time he participated in a parade.

“I’ve been in the Douglas one,” he said, referring to the kids-oriented afternoon parade that follows the one downtown. “I was the marching band banner holder when I was like five, but never anything before like this.”

The parade was part of the numerous traditional activities in Juneau on July 3 and 4, with this year observing the 248-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The three grand marshals had differing suggestions when asked what immediately came to mind as a suitable gift for a country’s 248th birthday.

“That’s a pretty big birthday,” Juergens said. “And for a country — maybe some sort of military weapon.”

“A big statue,” Lam suggested.

“Economic stability,” Wood said. “That’s something a country like ours deserves.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

Molly McCormick (center), grand marshal of the Douglas Fourth of July parade, hands a ball to Stella Brooks, 4, during Juneau’s Fourth of July parade Thursday morning before the afternoon parade in Douglas. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Molly McCormick (center), grand marshal of the Douglas Fourth of July parade, hands a ball to Stella Brooks, 4, during Juneau’s Fourth of July parade Thursday morning before the afternoon parade in Douglas. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Participants take off from the starting line in the 11th Annual Glenn Frick Memorial Run in downtown Juneau about 30 minutes before the annual Fourth of July parade starts. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Participants take off from the starting line in the 11th Annual Glenn Frick Memorial Run in downtown Juneau about 30 minutes before the annual Fourth of July parade starts. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Staff and volunteers collect trash for the Alaska Waste truck that is the final float in Juneau’s Fourth of July parade on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Staff and volunteers collect trash for the Alaska Waste truck that is the final float in Juneau’s Fourth of July parade on Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Cade Jobsis, 3, walks with assistance from his parents in Juneau’s Fourth of July Parade on Thursday morning. He suffers from a rare genetic disease known as AP-4-associated hereditary spastic paraplegia, and the family’s participation in the parade was part of an awareness and fundraising effort. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Cade Jobsis, 3, walks with assistance from his parents in Juneau’s Fourth of July Parade on Thursday morning. He suffers from a rare genetic disease known as AP-4-associated hereditary spastic paraplegia, and the family’s participation in the parade was part of an awareness and fundraising effort. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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