Oprah Winfrey is introduced to staff of Holland America’s Eurodam cruise ship before boarding in Juneau, Alaska, on Monday, July 17, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Oprah Winfrey is introduced to staff of Holland America’s Eurodam cruise ship before boarding in Juneau, Alaska, on Monday, July 17, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

It’s Oprah!

Cody Wilson didn’t recognize the woman until she was leaving the store.

Wilson, working a shift at Mt. Juneau Trading Post downtown around noon on Sunday, was in the back left corner of the store when a woman approached him. She was holding a soapstone sculpture in her hands and asked if she could see more artwork like it. Wilson, a recent high school graduate who just started working at the shop, gladly showed her the wares.

She picked a couple pieces of art out, and had her bodyguard pay for the purchases. As she walked out, Wilson came to a sudden realization.

He had just served Oprah.

As he rung up the purchases and packed them up, Wilson asked the bodyguard if his realization was correct.

“Was that who I thought it was?” Wilson asked.

“I don’t know, man,” the bodyguard responded. “It could have been a lot of people.”

Similar versions of the same story drifted throughout downtown Juneau on Monday, as people had spotted Oprah all over town. Instead of showing off pictures of bald eagles or foggy mountains, people were showing off selfies with Oprah.

The media magnate was in town Monday for her Oprah Magazine Share the Adventure Cruise, a seven-day trip from Seattle through Southeast Alaska. Fans of hers boarded in Seattle and met up with Oprah in Juneau on Monday, with plans to go to Glacier Bay, Sitka and Ketchikan among other locations.

Judi Jones, a Seattle resident who watched Oprah’s television show for years, bought a ticket for the cruise and was walking around Juneau on Monday. She still hadn’t seen Oprah, and waited outside the massive Holland America Eurodam cruise ship Monday afternoon to catch a glimpse of her.

Oprah had spent part of Monday out hiking, making an appearance at the Mount Roberts Trail. She posted videos to her Instagram page of her on the trail, ranging from her excitedly singing before going on the trail to her demonstrating how to scare off black bears. She then went back to the Eurodam for a while before heading back out.

Jones, wearing a rainbow-colored hat and a bright pink sweatshirt that stood out on the cloudy day, wasn’t the only one waiting on the cruise dock to see Oprah board an SUV that waited on the dock outside the ship.

A few tour company employees, stationed there to await passengers looking to go whale watching or dogsledding, stood and craned their necks to see if Oprah was about to emerge. Others walking by would stop for a few minutes to see if they could catch a peek, but would move on shortly.

Kelsey Lambe and her mother Linda Lambe were there for the long haul, though. Kelsey, a Petersburg resident, is in Juneau for a couple weeks in order to give birth (Petersburg’s hospital doesn’t deliver babies). Linda was up from Kennewick, Washington, visiting her daughter. When they saw on Facebook that Oprah was in town, they immediately headed to the dock and waited.

Linda raised her children on Oprah, watching Oprah’s show regularly and subscribing to O Magazine. Kelsey texted her siblings as soon as the news of Oprah in Juneau came out, and joked that she’ll be the favorite child if her mom ended up meeting her idol.

The mother and daughter waited for more than an hour to catch a glimpse of Oprah, and made a joking agreement about the timing of Kelsey’s baby with Oprah’s arrival in Juneau.

“If we met Oprah,” Kelsey said, laughing, “I said that I’d name her Oprah.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Petersburg does not have a hospital. Petersburg does have a hospital, but the hospital doesn’t deliver babies. It has been corrected. The Empire regrets this error.

 


 

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at alex.mccarthy@juneauempire.com.

 


 

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