The sweaters were ugly, but the cause was not.
The Alaskan Hotel and Bar hosted an ugly Christmas sweater party Saturday night that doubled as a clothing drive.
“Juneau is a small community, and you should give back,” said Angie Erickson, bar manager.
Erickson said any gently used clothing collected during the night was destined for Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE), Juneau’s gender-inclusive shelter for survivors of gender-based violence.
As the event wore on, bags of donated clothing stacked up behind the bar.
Eric Bleicher, a friend of Erickson’s, dropped off some shirts he hadn’t worn in a while and hoped would help someone in need.
“I had to run home for something, and it dawned on me it’d be a good way to make sure it went to a good use.”
The idea for the first-ever ugly sweater party and charity drive was a a group effort, although Erickson predominantly credited bartender Amara Enciso with the idea.
“We decided to throw something people could come out and do,” Enciso said. “The weather is getting to everybody.”
A sub-freezing temperature outside and windy blasts of snow whipping across Franklin Street underscored her point.
Inside the bar, Christmas music played over the speakers, Christmas lights twinkled and both staff and customers wore appropriately unseemly seasonal sweaters.
“You have to go out and hunt,” Enciso said.
She wore a sweater decorated with a moose, a Christmas tree and animal tracks while tending bar. “This is vintage. I got it in the Valley. The senior section is the best.”
Wes Young came to the party wearing a secondhand find that Enciso dubbed “epic” and a Santa hat with Grinch-colored feather trim.
“It’s the ugliest setup of a sweater,” Young said.
Young’s shapeless, ribbed burgundy sweater displaying the hindquarters of a reindeer with a stream of jingly ornaments emanating from beneath its tail.
Young said the back half of the deer seemed to just be felt someone affixed to the sweater.
“It’s kind of got a weird smell to it,” Young said. “It’s nothing a shot won’t fix.”
Not everyone’s getup was secondhand.
Josh Fortenbery came wearing a specially bought ugly sweater, a Green Bay Packers cardigan. Fortenberry also dropped off a bag of items for the clothing drive.
“It’s a cool idea,” Fortenberry said. “There’s a lot of ugly sweater parties in town. It’s nice there’s one where you can have fun and do something good, too.”
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.