Sitka knows how to play. Labor Day Weekend featured a classical concert, Jazz and Mud Ball, a softball tournament that is usually played in the mud, but not so much this year. But for us the highlight was a three-way combination, the mermaid/seafood festival with Rock the Dock. Sitka is really good at festivals celebrating chamber music, uncommon music, jazz, whales, so why not mermaids?
Saturday’s festivities started with a mermaid promenade down the Sea Walk. There were not so many strolling mermaids this year, a little hard to do with no legs, but a few were game, although I think there is a difference between game fish and game mermaids.
The mermaids promenaded to the net drying shelter for games. The games were designed to appeal to a wide variety of ages. Some were good for the whole family. There were tosses and nettings.
My favorite was an activity where little kids built tiny boats to race down a course made from rain gutters. Blow directly on the sails or use a straw for a more directed breeze, your choice.
You could also make prayer flags for the ocean and forest. Communities made around Southeast joined local flags to send devotions to the winds at the Sitka festival.
The mermaid market featured sea themed crafts and food trucks that, fortunately for me, had more than sea food entries, like reindeer sausage, Cuban sandwiches or Primo’s Teriyaki and fry bread.
The tote races are a tradition in Sitka. Blue totes that usually transport iced fish become racing shells, of a sort. Of a sort because there is no keel, they are top heavy and are hard to steer. I think this race was inspired by the survival of a fisherman whose boat sank and he awaited rescue from a coast guard helicopter in a seafood tote several years ago. Anyway, the fire department rescue swimmers were standing by when one of the totes flipped during the first heat. Everyone was ok and for at least one junior high aged girl it was an excuse to get wet, doing somersaults on one of the dock fingers, right into the water, ops, well not really. ops.
The blue totes look something like Lego bricks and one team took advantage of that.
The evening ended with “Rock the Dock for the Tongass” a dance under the fish drying nets on the crescent harbor dock. The dance was a such a success that when we had a 5 point earthquake and no one noticed. We were rocking too much already. It was one of those events that reminds me why I love Sitka. Little kids, their parents, and grand parents were all rocking the dock until an aurora broke out right overhead and people happily scattered to darker parts of town for a better look.