Jude Winchell, 3, takes in a parade from ontop of Cory Winchell’s shoulders, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Jude Winchell, 3, takes in a parade from ontop of Cory Winchell’s shoulders, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Parade held in Mendenhall Valley

People young and old participate in, attend event.

The coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of many Fourth of July events, but Juneauites who wanted to gather and celebrate the holiday, despite public health concerns, had an option in the Mendenhall Valley.

Dozens of vehicles, several cyclists and a few people on foot completed Saturday morning a festive and unpermitted circuit that began and finished at the Nugget Mall. Clusters of people — and a few pets — lined the sides of Crest Street to gather handfuls of candy thrown from the passing cars and see the vehicles decorated for the holiday finish the parade.

Jax wears patriotic garb while waiting for a parade to make its way down Crest Street Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Jax wears patriotic garb while waiting for a parade to make its way down Crest Street Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

“It’s a little bit more than I expected,” said parade organizer Ray Rusaw of attendance during a pre-parade interview.

Rusaw said he wasn’t sure exactly how many people participated in the event.

While many participants were visibly members organizations such as the American Legion, Rusaw said they were there as individuals and no veterans organizations officially participated in the event.

Tom Dawson, commander of American Legion Auke Bay Post 25, bends down to talk to Knox Whiteley, 3, prior to a parade held July 4, 2020. “It’s great,” Dawson said of the ad hoc Fourth of July parade. “I love it.” While some parade participants are members of the American Legion, the organization did not officially participate in the parade. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Tom Dawson, commander of American Legion Auke Bay Post 25, bends down to talk to Knox Whiteley, 3, prior to a parade held July 4, 2020. “It’s great,” Dawson said of the ad hoc Fourth of July parade. “I love it.” While some parade participants are members of the American Legion, the organization did not officially participate in the parade. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

He said most of the participants were from the local “car culture,” which he expected. He added it could allow people to socially distance if they so chose.

Some participants and observers attempted to stay six feet apart from people who they do not live with and wore face coverings — as is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state and city — but many did not.

[Governor advises people to be diligent over holiday weekend]

Rusaw, who walked the parade route without a mask, said that a lack of social distancing didn’t bother him. Attendees and participants, Rusaw said, were exercising their rights and making an informed decision.

Suzanne Haight dons a hat and face covering in the parade staging area prior to a parade Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Suzanne Haight dons a hat and face covering in the parade staging area prior to a parade Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

“The people that came out here today, they knew what they were doing,” Rusaw said.

Earlier in the week, Juneau Police Department advised that blocking roads or impeding traffic could lead to citations. While officers were visibly present to observe the parade, no citations appeared to be issued. A message to JPD sent Saturday morning seeking confirmation that no one was cited was not immediately returned.

Rusaw, who advised parade participants to follow the law to the best of their ability while making their way along the short route, said upon its conclusion that the parade went fairly smoothly.

“Juneau’s a bunch of good people,” Rusaw said, adding that the Fourth of July brings out the best in people.

People cheer following the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the start of a parade July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

People cheer following the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the start of a parade July 4, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

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