Walter Soboleff Jr. leads a traditional Alaska Native dance during the beginning of the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Walter Soboleff Jr. leads a traditional Alaska Native dance during the beginning of the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A strong show of seamanship at 14th annual Juneau Maritime Festival

U.S. Navy and Coast Guard get into tug-of-war after destroyer arrives during record-size gathering.

Anthony Warner knew he was going into battle when the U.S. Navy destroyer he serves on docked in Juneau on Saturday. But what awaited on shore — a tug-of-war — wasn’t part of the chief petty officer’s expert training.

Of course, compared to everyday folks Navy enlistees are among the elite when it comes to pulling large ropes with power. But their foes on the battlefield of Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday afternoon were six members of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Southeast Alaska, who in addition to being pretty good rope pullers themselves were two-time defending champions of the tug-of-war contest that’s part of the annual Juneau Maritime Festival.

U.S. Navy personnel assigned to the USS William P. Lawrence destroyer battle local member of the U.S. Coast Guard during the tug-of-war contest at the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

U.S. Navy personnel assigned to the USS William P. Lawrence destroyer battle local member of the U.S. Coast Guard during the tug-of-war contest at the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The Navy team of four men and two women (in keeping with contest rules) put up a heftier fight than any other against the Coast Guard six. But in slow creeping inches at first, then faster as leverage was lost and a feeling of the inevitable set in, the Navy team members were pulled over the line of defeat.

“I think we did pretty good,” Warner said. “They’ve been doing it for years so they’ve got one up on us.”

Since the tug-of-war was a double elimination contest the two military teams met in the finals for a rematch, with similar results. Capt. Darwin Jensen, commander of the regional Coast Guard sector, accepting the trophy for his second championship in two years as a member of the team, said the Navy team put up a strong fight — comparing them to the city’s Docks and Harbors team that were the runners-up last year and fared well again this year.

“We just pulled,” he said, when asked if there were any particular thoughts or strategies before facing the Navy team.

A colorful assortment of fishy merchandise is displayed at one of the more than 90 booths at the Juneau Maritime Festival on Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza. A mural of Peratrovich, an Alaska Native civil rights leader, is in the backdrop. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A colorful assortment of fishy merchandise is displayed at one of the more than 90 booths at the Juneau Maritime Festival on Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza. A mural of Peratrovich, an Alaska Native civil rights leader, is in the backdrop. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The competition came in the middle of a long series of Maritime Festival events including live music, short harbor cruises, and a search-and-rescue demonstration by Coast Guard members. There also were more than 90 vendor booths, a record for the festival organized by the Juneau Economic Development Council, with offerings including food, crafts, and information/advocacy efforts such as reducing waste in marine environments and whether to place limits on local cruise ship tourism.

The arrival of the Navy’s 510-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence about an hour before the tug-of-war was an event in itself since it is the first time a military vessel has arrived in Juneau during the festival.

Public tours of the vessel will be available while it remains in the harbor between Sunday and Wednesday.

Another significant arrival — and far more traditional in multiple senses of the word — kicked off the festival as two canoes carrying about 25 members of the One People Canoe Society and other occupants paddled from Harris Harbor to the downtown cruise docks where they were welcomed by the Yees Ku Oo Dancers.

Members of the One People Canoe Society and others in their two canoes are helped ashore after their landing at the beginning of the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Members of the One People Canoe Society and others in their two canoes are helped ashore after their landing at the beginning of the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Among the guest paddlers was U.S. Navy RAdm. Mark Socato, commander of the Navy Region Northwest, who was in Juneau in association with the USS William P. Lawrence’s arrival and said he accepted an invitation from the One People Canoe Society to participate in their landing.

“They were incredibly gracious hosts,” he said. “One of the things you learn in the Navy is how you can talk to anybody. And I couldn’t have been more honored by the reception I received. And it was a real honor and an eye-opening experience to paddle with them.”

Socato, while now a commander of large ships, said Saturday’s paddle wasn’t his first in an Indigenous canoe.

“I grew up doing all things outdoors,” he said.

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

More photos from the 2024 Juneau Maritime Festival:

Members of the Juneau Hash House Harriers tug-of-war team are outpulled by the U.S. Coast Guard during a competition at the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Members of the Juneau Hash House Harriers tug-of-war team are outpulled by the U.S. Coast Guard during a competition at the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Anthony Warner (left) and U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Darwin Jensen exchange a handshake after teams from the two military branches compete in the tug-of-war finale during the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Anthony Warner (left) and U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Darwin Jensen exchange a handshake after teams from the two military branches compete in the tug-of-war finale during the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Two canoes paddled by members of the One People Canoe Society are dwarfed by a cruise ship as they near their landing spot during the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Two canoes paddled by members of the One People Canoe Society are dwarfed by a cruise ship as they near their landing spot during the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The Yees Ku Oo Dancers welcome two canoes paddled by members of the One People Canoe Society as they near their landing spot during the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday.(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The Yees Ku Oo Dancers welcome two canoes paddled by members of the One People Canoe Society as they near their landing spot during the annual Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday.(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Members of the One People Canoe Society near shore in one of two canoes paddled from Harris Harbor to the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Members of the One People Canoe Society near shore in one of two canoes paddled from Harris Harbor to the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Hundreds of residents and cruise ship passengers visit the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Hundreds of residents and cruise ship passengers visit the Juneau Maritime Festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People watch the arrival of the USS William P. Lawrence, a U.S. Navy destroyer, on Saturday afternoon. It is the first time a military vessel has arrived during the Juneau Maritime Festival. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People watch the arrival of the USS William P. Lawrence, a U.S. Navy destroyer, on Saturday afternoon. It is the first time a military vessel has arrived during the Juneau Maritime Festival. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

U.S. Navy personnel stand at attention on deck as the USS William P. Lawrence arrives in Juneau on Saturday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

U.S. Navy personnel stand at attention on deck as the USS William P. Lawrence arrives in Juneau on Saturday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Crew members of the USS William P. Lawrence cover a deck gun as the ship docks in Juneau on Saturday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Crew members of the USS William P. Lawrence cover a deck gun as the ship docks in Juneau on Saturday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Crew aboard the USS William P. Lawrence pull lines tight as the ship docks in Juneau on Saturday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Crew aboard the USS William P. Lawrence pull lines tight as the ship docks in Juneau on Saturday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Officers aboard the USS William P. Lawrence greet local officials and others who come aboard the U.S. Navy ship after it docks in Juneau on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Officers aboard the USS William P. Lawrence greet local officials and others who come aboard the U.S. Navy ship after it docks in Juneau on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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