Locals gathered for a whale of a time near “Tahku,” the whale sculpture under shimmering lights and loud booms for the annual firework display over Gastineau Channel in 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Locals gathered for a whale of a time near “Tahku,” the whale sculpture under shimmering lights and loud booms for the annual firework display over Gastineau Channel in 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

How to celebrate the many sights and sounds of July 4

“Voices of Alaska” theme for downtown parade reflects range of Juneau’s traditional holiday events

The longtime traditions will mostly be the same, including different people being bestowed with the most honorable titles during Fourth of July events in Juneau and Douglas that start a few days before the official holiday itself.

Consumer fireworks are already on sale between noon and 8 p.m. daily at Smoke Signals Fireworks, located at 3.2 mile of Fish Creek Road, through July 3, the use of which are subject to the city’s official guidelines. The main public Gastineau Channel Fireworks show, operated by the volunteer Juneau Fireworks Crew, is again scheduled to start during the last few minutes of Monday, July 3, and continue past the strike of midnight July 4.

“Voices of Alaska” is the theme for this year’s parade through downtown Juneau that starts at 11 a.m. at the Alaska Department of Labor Building on West Eighth Street. It’s a fitting theme for the four grand marshals.

Perhaps a well known name among longtime residents is Pete Carran, a TV and radio broadcaster for decades — most notably in Juneau for his many years at KINY-AM — who during some years narrated the Declaration of Independence for broadcast at the beginning of the parade. In a bio on the website of the Juneau Festival Association, which hosts the parade, he stated it is among a few favorite memories of the event over the years.

“My favorite came in 1987 when Juneau honored the remaining survivors of the USS Juneau sunk during World War II in the Pacific,” he wrote. “In addition to the five survivors, the son of the vessel’s captain and the PBY pilot who disobeyed orders and rescued the sailors also participated in that parade. Those men were so touched by the outpouring of appreciation displayed by Juneau and its residents. There were tears in their eyes.”

“Other favorite parades for me were those in which the Yankee Doodles marched. I sponsored the event for several years. My inspiration was my doodle dog Rufus who also doubled as a personality on KINY. We always were voted the Best Pet entry since we were the only pet entry most years.”

The other grand marshals are Ernestine Saankaláxt Hayes, a Tlingit artist and writer who is a member of the Wolf House of the Kaagwaantaan clan with more than seven generations of family in Juneau; Alan Young, a musician with many bands as well as a music teacher who has lived in Juneau since 1999; and Wade Bryson, a Juneau City and Borough Assembly member who has lived in Juneau for 26 years.

The grand marshal for the subsequent Douglas Parade is Ed Schoenfeld, a “musician, crime researcher, social media host, community volunteer, vice president of the Douglas Advisory Board, and retired journalist,” according to the Douglas 4th of July Committee. Among his notable Douglas impacts is running the “I Live in Douglas” Facebook group and composing the “I Live in Douglas” song for his Empty Oil Barrel Band.

The following is a list of holiday events organized by various groups including the Juneau Festival Association and the Douglas 4th of July Committee:

July 1

• Bicycle Decorating & Sidewalk Chalk Decorating, 1-3 p.m. at the Douglas Library parking garage.

Decorate your bike/trike/scooter for the parade and the sidewalk in front of the library — supplies provided. Sponsored by the Douglas Public Library and the Douglas 4th of July Committee.

July 2

• Independence Day Concert, 3 p.m., Sealaska Heritage Plaza, 105 S. Seward St.

By the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band. Bring your own lawn chair or ground blanket.

• Drawing for the Douglas 4th of July Community Raffle, 6:30 p.m., Louie’s Douglas Inn. 915 3rd St.

July 3

• Soapbox Car Show and Challenge, 5 p.m., at the Soapbox Challenge site on St. Ann’s Avenue.

Show begins at 5 p.m., registration, trials and challenge at 5:30 p.m. Divisions: ages 5-6, 7-8, and 9-10 (practice only). Sponsored by the Douglas 4th of July Committee with assistance from volunteers from the Juneau Huskies Football Team.

• Community Picnic, 6-8 p.m., shelter no. 1, Sandy Beach, Douglas.

Food and drinks provided. Watermelon eating contest at 6 p.m., sand dollar search at 7 p.m.

• Pre-Fireworks Contra Dance, 7:30-11 p.m., St. Ann’s Parish Hall, 430 5th St.

Annual pre-fireworks barn dance. Full Circle will play contra dance music and Odette Edgar will be calling. Beginner’s lesson at 7:30 p.m., main dance begins at 8 p.m. Pay as you can, cash at the door (suggested donation: $10/adults, $5/kids/seniors/students).

• Fireworks over Gastineau Channel, 11:59 p.m.

Though having the fireworks show the night of July 3 might seem odd to some, it’s been a tradition dating back to the 1800s. When the Douglas Treadwell Mine was still in operation, the mine only shut down on Christmas and the Fourth of July. So, in order to make sure miners also had the chance to enjoy the fireworks too, the show was moved a day earlier at midnight.

July 4

Free buses will operate every 30 minutes between the Federal Building in downtown Juneau and Sayeik: Gastineau Community School in Douglas between noon and 6 p.m. during the day.

• 10th Annual Glenn Frick Memorial Run, 10:30-11:00 a.m., The Alaska Club Juneau Downtown, 641 W. Willoughby Ave #210.

Registration at 10 a.m. Downton JRC/Alaska Club parking lot. Race starts promptly at 10:30 a.m.. Pay as you can (suggested $15), $50 prize to the race winners, $100 for a new course record. Fundraiser for the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kale cross country team.

• Juneau Parade, 11 a.m., starts at the Department of Labor Building on West 8th Street.

Starting at the Dept. of Labor building, the Juneau Parade will travel around Juneau turning from Egan Drive and West 8th St., down Main Street, turning right on Front Street before turning onto Franklin Street and ending heading back down Egan Drive.

• BBQ Sandwiches and Homemade Pies, 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m., (or until food runs out), 3rd and E Streets.

• Hot dog sale, noon, in front of Douglas Fire Hall, sponsored by the Douglas Volunteer Fire District. 1016 3rd St.

• Annual Sandcastle Challenge, Sandy Beach. 101 Savikko Rd.

Registration at noon, Low tide (4.0’) at 8:35 a.m. High tide (15.7’) at 3:15 p.m. Award time 3:30 p.m. For more information contact Zane Jones (907) 957-7500.

• Douglas Parade, 1:30 p.m. assembly time, 2 p.m. parade start, Sayéik: Gastineau Community School.

The parade will start at the Sayéik: Gastineau Community School and run down and into the downtown area. The parade will feature classic participants like the Juneau Marching Band, the Juneau-Douglas Shrine Club and a section for kids to join in the parade.

• Field Events, 3 p.m., Savikko Park, field no. 1.

10-yard dash (boys/girls ages 2-3), 20-yard dash (boys/girls ages 4-5), 30-yard dash (boys/girls ages 6-8), 40-yard dash (9-10, mothers, fathers), 60-yard dash (11-14, all women, all men), 3-legged race (10-12, over 12), sack race (5-7, 8-10, 11-14, over 14), sack race (child with parent). Sponsored by Jo Betts and the Douglas 4th of July Committee with assistance from volunteers from the Juneau Huskies Football Team.

• Final Soapbox Challenge, 3 p.m., St. Ann’s Avenue.

Divisions: ages 5-6, 7-8, and 9-10. Sponsored by the Douglas 4th of July Committee with assistance from volunteers from the Juneau Huskies Football Team. For more information contact David Eckerson (907) 988-6422.

• Make & Break, 4 p.m., in front of Douglas Fire Hall. 1016 3rd St.

Olde Time Firemen’s Hose Race. Sponsored by the Douglas Volunteer Fire District.

• Alaska Music One presents “Bands on the Beach,” 7-9 p.m., Sandy Beach.

Weather permitting.

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

Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File
Aoibhinn Reetz executes her creative vision for her bike during the Douglas Fourth of July Committee’s annual Bicycle Decorating session held at the Douglas Public Library on July 2, 2022.

Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File Aoibhinn Reetz executes her creative vision for her bike during the Douglas Fourth of July Committee’s annual Bicycle Decorating session held at the Douglas Public Library on July 2, 2022.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File
A towering inflatable Uncle Sam “waves” to the crowd from the Hawaiian-themed Juneau Urgent Care float that won the Best of Parade award in the 2022 downtown July 4 parade.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File A towering inflatable Uncle Sam “waves” to the crowd from the Hawaiian-themed Juneau Urgent Care float that won the Best of Parade award in the 2022 downtown July 4 parade.

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