Thursday, July 5, 2007

the day after the 4th

The 4th in Juneau is our biggest holiday. We have a population of about 32,000 and I think 30,000 turn out for the festivities! We have one highway to and from town. I take that back. We have the "old" Glacier Highway (two lanes) which was replaced by Egan Drive (four lanes). Egan is our main road. We have a town that sits on the side of the mountains and overlooks the water. We have limited parking. Yet, we have thousands and thousands of people who head downtown for this:

Brian Wallace, Juneau Empire
The parade of cars downtown starts early in the evening; by 8 p.m. That's because everyone has their favorite spot to sit and watch the fireworks and they do anything to claim their post. We have our fireworks at midnight on July 3. This is because it's not dark enough any earlier and if we had them on the 4th, it would be past every one's bedtime.

They fire the works off from a barge in the middle of the Channel (Gastineau Channel) and people line up wherever there's a view to watch. Boats anchor up in the Channel. People sit on top of buildings and climb the highest mountains. They park in the meridian of the highway, with their coolers of survival food (and beer), camp stools, boom boxes, and blankets. It's the biggest party of the year!

Then, on the 4th, is the parade. Again, the entire town shows up for the parade at 11:00. Again, with their camp stools and coolers of survival food. Heaven forbid that we should go hungry! The firetrucks are the first in line, tossing salt water taffy to all the kids, and adults :) It's a mad dash to see who can get to the candy first! Our floats aren't covered with carnations and other gorgeous flowers but crepe paper, spruce tree boughs, and other foreign objects.

Everyone with a cause is allowed to join the parade.... We have a lot of people marching--the Philippinos and Hawaiians in their garb and performing their national dance. Everyone with an antique car joins in. Marching bands. The best part of our 4th of July parade is.... it's always sunny! This is one thing you can pretty much count on every year.

My kids are grown and there's no longer that need to join in the festivities. So we've found other things to do over the 4th, but it's a little sad. I do miss the people, all 30,000 of them! I almost miss the parade of cars, the waiting to get somewhere. Being up past my bedtime. Maybe next year.


Jerusalem said...

There is no parade better than the Juneau 4th parade! What fun!

Connie said...

It sounds like the 4th is a very festive event there. I can relate to having a quiet holiday this year... our kids weren't here with us as they have been the past few years. I missed them, the picnic supper, and the home fireworks display manned by my fearless son. ;-)