Thousands of people gathered in Juneau and Douglas Thursday to participate in the city’s annual parades.
On the Juneau side of the water, attendees set up camp chairs and found the best spots along the road, while parade’s participants gathered in the parking lot on lower Eighth Street across from the Department of Labor building.
Most wore red, white and blue, but there was much more as each group prepared their floats and revelled in the excitement. This year’s theme of the Juneau parade was “Heartbeat of Juneau” and the various organizations taking part in the parade each displayed their Fourth of July spirit in their own way.
Some Juneauites decided to fold in other traditions into their Fourth of July celebrations. Some members of the Juneau Filipino community were dressed in colorful regalia to celebrate the Ati Atihan festival, normally celebrated the third week of January. The festival is typically celebrated with a parade and colorful costumes, but according to one of the marchers Rodini Roldan, since they don’t have a parade in January because of poor weather, they decided to celebrate on the Fourth of July.
Another marcher, Melvin Cristobal, was dressed in an elaborate eagle costume. When asked why he was dressed as an eagle, he said, “‘Cuz America, and the eagle, that’s why.”
Standing in front of a large work truck with a heavy drill attached were members of the Juneau Central Labor Council, an umbrella organization representing labor unions in Southeast Alaska.
“We’re teachers, care-givers, first-responders,” said Nadine Lefebvre, president of the JCLC. “If you want something done in this community, organized labor is there for you.”
“We want people to know we’re proud to serve our community, we support all the good that America is,” she said. “We feel we are the heartbeat of Juneau.”
Draped in rainbow flags and headscarves, and gathered around the back of a pickup truck were members of the Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance. “We’re members, supporters, families here representing the community,” said “Grandma” Sandi Hicks, who said she was there for her grandson. “I’m proud to be Grandma Sandi to everyone here.”
When asked why they were attending the Fourth of July parade, SEAGLA chair JoLynn Shriber said to let people they were there.
She added, “The Juneau parade is the best, why wouldn’t you?”
Members of the One People Canoe Society had joined up with the Tlingit/Haida Elders Program, and elders were seated in two long canoes decorated in traditional paintings.
“We’re here so people can see that we’re still here,” said Doug Chilton, of the canoe society. “We’re here and we’re still active.”
The Southeast Alaska Native Veterans waved from the back of a flatbed truck and threw taffy candies to the crowd. The group was formed in 1995 to provide support to the area’s Alaska Native veterans, according Commander Ozzie Sheakley, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran.
Ray Wilson, 86, a veteran of the Korean War, said that it was good to see all the people and be greeted by everyone.
“All children should know what a veteran is,” he said, “what they sacrificed.”
One of the parade’s Grand Marshals, former nurse Willie Larsen, said she was happy to see “all the wonderful people I’ve cared for through the years.”
“Juneau is an exciting place,” Larsen said, “It really shows the spirit of the Fourth of July.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or email@example.com.