Fireworks light up the night sky over the Gastineau Channel with reds, whites and blues in the early hours of the Fourth of July. Personal fireworks were being shot off nearby, leading one onlooker to shout, “Double fireworks! I love America!” (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Fireworks light up the night sky over the Gastineau Channel with reds, whites and blues in the early hours of the Fourth of July. Personal fireworks were being shot off nearby, leading one onlooker to shout, “Double fireworks! I love America!” (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Juneau and Douglas enjoy Independence Day festivities

‘We’re really excited it’s all back’

Dozens of families gathered at Marine Park Saturday, July 3, to see the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band perform a special Independence Day set. Tristan Hovest, originally from Juneau but now living in Fairbanks, said Saturday he was asked to come down to be a guest conductor for the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band.

“Of course, some Sousa,” Hovest said, referring to famous American march composer John P. Sousa. “But we’re also going to play some more popular pieces.”

The band opened with the” Star-Spangled Banner” bringing the crowd to its feet with hearts covered before going into a variety of pieces, including scores from popular movies.

Hundreds of people swarmed over the downtown seawalk just before midnight Saturday, eager to get the best view of the fireworks being launched from a barge in the Gastineau Channel. Roughly half way through the show, the street lights along the seawalk were shut off prompting cheers from the crowd now lit in the colors of the fireworks.

Last year, fireworks and official parades took the year off because of the pandemic.

Personal fireworks were being shot off nearby, leading one onlooker to shout, “Double fireworks! I love America!”

Front Street in downtown was packed Sunday morning with red, white and blue-clad people, cars and dogs enjoying the serendipitous Southeast Alaska sunshine as the annual Fourth of July parade meandered through.

Near the front of the procession was parade marshal Benjamin Danny Coronell, a retired Juneau Police officer, clad in traditional regalia. This year’s parade included a wide range of local groups including the Southeast Alaska LGBTQ+ Alliance, Alaska National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard members, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans for Peace and candidates for the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly.

Goronell was one of two marshals in the parade. The other was Sherry Patterson, who has a long history of community involvement and is the first Black marshal in the Juneau parade’s history, according to organizers.

[Meet the marshals: Building bridges and leading the way]

Going (bike) pedal to the metal

Chiming bicycle bells and children’s laughter rang off the walls of the Douglas Public Library parking garage while adults —with some child supervision and help —worked to give bikes red, white and blue makeovers.

Dozens showed up Saturday afternoon to decorate bicycles —and a few scooters —a day ahead of the annual Douglas Fourth of July parade.

Volunteers put attendance at 44 kids, 33 bikes and 28 adults shortly before 2 p.m., and straggler groups of kids and their adults continued to arrive.

“It’s more than we’ve had in the past,” said Miah Lager, member of the Douglas Fourth of July Committee.“I think that’s the weather and people itching to come out and say hi to each other.”

It was 4-year-old Clara Malaueg’s first time participating in the normally annual bike decoration and sidewalk chalk event. Last year, Fourth of July festivities were canceled amid the pandemic, and prior to that Malaueg was too young.

“We’re really excited that it’s all back,” said mom Amy Balagna.

Lager said this year an emphasis was placed on bike safety and many of the decorations provided were reflective.

However, plenty of other decorations, including pinwheels, streamers and even dolls, didn’t serve as much practical purpose.

Imogen Resneck, 4, was among the children to turn a plaything into bike decor. Resneck’s flag-clutching doll, Robbie, was strapped to the front of her bike.

Imogen Resneck, 4, and Jamie Buehner finish up decorating a bike outside the Douglas Public Library on July 3, 2021. Resneck’s doll, Robbie, was bound to the bike like an amber-haired figurehead because “she wanted to go to the parade,” Resneck said. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Imogen Resneck, 4, and Jamie Buehner finish up decorating a bike outside the Douglas Public Library on July 3, 2021. Resneck’s doll, Robbie, was bound to the bike like an amber-haired figurehead because “she wanted to go to the parade,” Resneck said. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Why was the doll turned into a figurehead?

“Because she wanted to go to the parade,” Resneck said.

July 4 on Douglas

The sun shone brightly on Douglas Sunday afternoon as the second parade of the day stepped off Douglas Highway toward Savikko Park.

Children with decorated bikes — and many in costumes — joined forces with several entrants from Juneau’s parade to the delight of thousands of people who lined the parade route. Children clutched bags of candy collected from parade participants and dogs in festive garb watched the procession.

Members of Capital City Fire and Rescue competed in the “Olde Time Fireman’s Hose Race” as hundreds cheered the different crews in their efforts to quickly unroll and connect the hose to water in front of the Volunteer Fire House. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)

While waiting for the parade to start, hungry parade-goers created a line down the street in a bid to get hot dogs, chips and soda from a booth set up by the Douglas Volunteer Fire Department. Nearby, the Douglas Community Methodist Church sold a barbeque sandwich meal and baked goods.

[Photos: Juneau celebrates the Fourth of July]

Marshals Wallace (Sandy) and Susanne Williams rode in an antique car, leading the procession into Savikko Park, where food vendors and bands provided the backdrop for an afternoon of merriment.

Participants enjoyed field events, including sack races, dashes, and a 3-legged race. Others danced in front of the Pioneer Pavilion and soapbox derby finalists competed for top honors on nearby St. Ann’s Avenue.

At the beach, aspiring architects took on the Sand Castle challenge, creating sculptures enjoyed by hundreds of festival-goers.

“It’s wonderful,” said Maggie Swanson, chair of the Douglas Fourth of July Committee who was standing near the Alaska Department of Fish and Game building near the park’s entrance taking it all in on Sunday afternoon.

Millie Hiebenthal, 10 months, waits for the parade to start in downtown Juneau with her grandmother, Debbie Soto on Sunday. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)

Later in the afternoon, members of Capital City Fire/Rescue competed in the “Olde Time Fireman’s Hose Race” as hundreds cheered the different crews in their efforts to quickly unroll and connect the hose to water in front of the Volunteer Fire House.

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

The Juneau Fourth of July parade makes its way through downtown Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
The Juneau Fourth of July parade makes its way through downtown Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

The Juneau Fourth of July parade makes its way through downtown Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire) The Juneau Fourth of July parade makes its way through downtown Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Tristan Hovest, originally from Juneau but now living in Fairbanks, serves as guest conductor for the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band on Saturday. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Tristan Hovest, originally from Juneau but now living in Fairbanks, serves as guest conductor for the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band on Saturday. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

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