Hundreds of regalia-clad dancers lined Willoughby Avenue behind Centennial Hall on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in preparation for Celebration 2022’s grand procession through the hall. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Hundreds of regalia-clad dancers lined Willoughby Avenue behind Centennial Hall on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in preparation for Celebration 2022’s grand procession through the hall. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Hundreds gather for Celebration grand procession

Regalia-clad dancers pack streets downtown as ceremonies open

Regalia-clad celebrants thronged through downtown Juneau Wednesday evening carrying drums, flags, paddles and more as they prepared for Celebration 2022’s grand entrance at Centennial Hall.

Hundreds of people packed Willoughby Avenue behind Centennial Hall as dozens of dance groups and community delegations lined the street waiting for their turn in a grand procession through the hall. While hundreds of brightly-dressed performers waited in the street, hundreds more came to watch the procession on the first day of the four-day festival. Spectators packed the sidewalks and the stairs and lawn in front of the State Office Building as dancers made their way into a back entrance to Centennial Hall and onto the performance stage.

Dozens of dance groups were lined up on Willoughby Avenue on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, getting ready for the grand procession through Centennial Hall for Celebration 2022. Many groups were dancing and singing well before they entered the hall. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Dozens of dance groups were lined up on Willoughby Avenue on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, getting ready for the grand procession through Centennial Hall for Celebration 2022. Many groups were dancing and singing well before they entered the hall. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Brandon Gomez, 19, and his brother Christian Gomez, 22, clad in leather vests, said they’re Tlingits from the Raven moiety, and though they live in Maryland, they try to visit Alaska every summer.

“We come here for every Celebration,” Brandon Gomez said.

Christian Gomez added : “Wouldn’t miss it.”

[Walker’s run for governor comes to Juneau]

Several groups have traveled from around the state for the festivities, and though Celebration is primarily focused on Alaska Native communities in Southeast Alaska, groups representing communities in other parts of the state were part of the procession. Some celebrants had regalia from Indigenous communities outside of Alaska.

Brandon Gomez, 19, was on Willoughby Avenue in downtown Juneau on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, and said he and his brother, both Tlingits, traveled from Maryland to be at Celebration 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Brandon Gomez, 19, was on Willoughby Avenue in downtown Juneau on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, and said he and his brother, both Tlingits, traveled from Maryland to be at Celebration 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Wednesday evening Pauline Johnson was getting her dancers, the Xootsnoowu Dachaxanx’i Yan dance group, ready for the procession. Johnson said the group’s name means “Grandchildren of Angoon,” and that they had come from Angoon for Celebration. Johnson said she had some concerns about COVID-19 in the gathering, but summed up her feelings about being at Celebration in one word, “excited.”

“We learn the same songs as the adults,” Johnson said of her mostly young dancers. “We have some elders here for support.”

Even before the procession started the street was filled with singing, dancing and drumming as groups practiced and some simply danced. Standing beside his mother and younger Spirit Strawn, 6, was practicing dance moves by himself with a paddle custom-built for his size.

“I dance at my school, it’s really fun,” Strawn said.

Of his regalia, Strawn said “it’s an eagle. I’m an Eagle,” to which his 2-year-old sister, Starlight Lanz, added, “I’m a pirate!”

Willoughby Avenue behind Centennial Hall was packed with hundreds of dancers on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, as dance groups lined up to make their way through the hall for Celebration 2022’s grand procession. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Willoughby Avenue behind Centennial Hall was packed with hundreds of dancers on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, as dance groups lined up to make their way through the hall for Celebration 2022’s grand procession. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October of 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for t​​he Week of April 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

The Hubbard, the newest vessel in the Alaska Marine Highway System fleet, docks at the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on April 18. It is generally scheduled to provide dayboat service between Juneau, Haines and Skagway. (Photo by Laurie Craig)
Ongoing Alaska Marine Highway woes are such that marketing to Lower 48 tourists is being scaled back

“We just disappoint people right now,” AMHS’ marine director says during online public forum Monday.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Senate considers plan that would allow teens to independently seek mental health care

Amendment by Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, would lower the age for behavioral health care to 16

Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 28, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
House approves tougher route for environmental protections on Alaska rivers, lakes

HB95 would require lawmakers approve any “Tier III” labeling, the highest level of federal protection.

Rep. Andi Story (left, wearing gray), Rep. Sara Hannan (center, wearing purple) and Sen. Jesse Kiehl (wearing suit) talk with constituents following a legislative town hall on Thursday at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
All three members of Juneau’s legislative delegation seeking reelection

Reps. Andi Story and Sara Hannan, and Sen. Jesse Kiehl unopposed ahead of June 1 filing deadline

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The “Newtok Mothers” assembled as a panel at the Arctic Encounter Symposium on April 11 discuss the progress and challenges as village residents move from the eroding and thawing old site to a new village site called Mertarvik. Photographs showing deteriorating conditions in Newtok are displayed on a screen as the women speak at the event, held at Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Relocation of eroding Alaska Native village seen as a test case for other threatened communities

Newtok-to-Mertarvik transformation has been decades in the making.

Bailey Woolfstead, right, and her companion Garrett Dunbar examine the selection of ceramic and wood dishes on display at the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on behalf of the Glory Hall at Centennial Hall on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empty Bowls provides a full helping of fundraising for the Glory Hall

Annual soup event returns to Centennial Hall as need for homeless shelter’s services keeps growing.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon and her husband Greg. (Photo courtesy of the City and Borough of Juneau)
Greg Weldon, husband of Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon, killed in motorcycle accident Sunday morning

Accident occurred in Arizona while auto parts store co-owner was on road trip with friend

Most Read