When I lived abroad, I idealized our holidays. Thanksgiving was always more thankful looking at it from abroad than it was when I got home. The Fourth of July was the same way. I have always loved this holiday more than others because it celebrated the values that our country holds dear AND because it was, first and foremost, a civic holiday. Our family was not one that had back yard barbeques, we were out all day, at the parade, eating hotdogs at the hot dog stand, going to the model airplane show, swimming at the public pool, the concert at the bandshell and fireworks. It was a day you saw everyone you knew, and while I love the family traditions of Christmas, I also love the civic engagement of the Fourth.
Sitka always had a great Fourth, fireworks, block dance, parade, games and food booth. That’s the Fourth of July I carried with me to Albania, Serbia and Slovakia. And on home leave when I was home for the Fourth, which was not often, the memories were reinforced. In 2012, we were back from our posting in Serbia for about 6 months and I, along with the other Raven Radio managers in its history, were grand marshals of the parade. That may have been the greatest professional honor I have ever experienced. I walked the route waving and shaking hands and saw everyone I knew in town.
But the last 5 years the celebration has been less grand, fewer games, fewer food booths, it seems fewer events.
This year it was back to the full experience. The fireworks were great, the parade was fun, but best of all, the Sitka Historical Society sponsored events and booths at the end of the parade, in Totem Square, along the end of Lincoln Street and on the front lawn of the Raven Radio Cable house. Raven handed out free Root Beer Floats and sold raffle tickets.
There were food booths. And of all different ethnicities, that’s what I like, Cuban sandwiches, Reindeer sausage, hot dogs, Italian meatball heroes and sodas, Native Fry Bread, and just down the street Filipino food and tacos.
There was live music and dancing.
Sitka Cirque put on a show.
And there were games like the Gunny Sack Race.
There was a greased pole. It was a trolling pole (of course) with money along the pole, a $100 at the top, and two people claimed that prize, which no one thought would happen.
The national guard sponsors an Explorer Scout post and they had a baseball toss with radar to show how fast the ball flew and a hockey game.
And many things I didn’t get pics of, like three legged races and a pie eating contest. And, of course, people enjoyed greeting each other.
It was a great Glorious Fourth, as only a small town can put on. It was exactly what I needed.