There is always food. On Problem Corner I promoted black cod tips at the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and the food booths and the hot dog stands opening, at 11 it was fish pie and fry bread at St. Michaels, the Chili Cookoff at St. Gregory’s and just plain pie and coffee at the Lutherans. At noon it was Alaska Dave’s fresh donuts at the Salvation Army. At 2 PM it was finger food at the Legion, tea at the Pioneer’s Home, chowder at Brave Hearts Volunteers and the Brisket Cookoff at the Brew Fest sponsored by the Historical Society. I think the Moose had a teriyaki booth but they weren’t on the radio. I’m sure I missed something. Small towns are sure good at turning any holiday into an eat-a-thon.
I was teasing the Lutherans on the air, telling them they better have lemon meringue pie, they said they did but it would go fast and I had to be there early. I said “But I’m on the radio until noon.” I had a message when I got to the radio station “There is a lemon meringue pie with your name on it.” And there was, Kim and Kathleen made sure I was, for a brief time, the proud owner of a lemon meringue pie. (I say a short time because, you know, it’s a lemon meringue pie and meringue is hard to make in a humid rainforest, and October is our wettest month. I also had a some of Alaska Dave’s donuts, with a touch of ginger, nutmeg and more than a touch of cinnamon. Hot and good. I passed up on most of the other food because of my fish allergy and I can’t eat chowder, black cod tips, fish pie, or hot dogs and brats cooked on the same grill as seafood. I am never sure of the fry bread, sometimes it is cooked in oil that contains some fish oil. I missed the brisket because I had another commitment and I don’t much like beer anyway.
October is the wettest month in Sitka, one friend jokes that’s why the Russians pulled out in October. And the parade is always under the threat of rain. As the parade was forming up it was pouring. The middle school band was sheltering on the porch of the radio station. (The parade forms up in front of KIFW and ends in the KCAW front yard. Someone called it the “Station-to-station” parade.) But as the 1:30 parade time approached a giant sucker hole opened up. Between 12:45 and 1 PM I was making my way from my car, where I had put my Lutherans lemon meringue pie, to St. Michael’s Cathedral where I usually join TV Dan Etulain and James from the Sentinel in the “press gallery” behind the cathedral. The cathedral sits right in the middle of Lincoln Street and the parade passes to the left of the cathedral. If you stand at the back of the cathedral you can catch the parade coming head on and then turn to our right and catch a side view of the floats and bands. As we approached the Cathedral, right in front of the pie eating Lutherans, we heard a Dixieland band playing “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” The band was a subset of the 9th Army Band, and was doing a little of pre parade jiving down the street. They formed up before the Cathedral and played “Didn’t he Ramble,” the trumpet player doubling on vocals, singing into a bull horn. Some of the fish pie and fry bread eaters came out of the Cathedral to watch. (I have pictures on my Facebook page, you can scroll down to find them. https://www.facebook.com/rich.mcclear
The sucker hole held for the whole parade as civic groups, church groups, advocacy groups, play groups, school groups, dance groups, drumming groups, service clubs, day care centers, conservation groups, businesses, first responders (the parade honored them this year) the Coast Guard (always the biggest cheer from the crowd) the Forest Service (with Smoky Bear, I tried to get a chant started “No roads” I failed) the park service, and people dressed in 1867 costume paraded by. The Coast Guard Flyby draws our attention to the whirlybirds flying over the Russian Crosses of the Cathedral. And there was music, the Army Band, the High School Band (Sitka High has the most practical band uniform ever, and probably the least expensive, blue rain slickers that say “Sitka High Band.”) the Middle School band (The sax player said they played the same song 6 times along the route of march, it was early in the school year) and, almost drowned out by the enthusiastic middle schoolers, the Seattle Fire Department Pipe and Drum Corps, playing Amazing Grace, leading the Sitka Fire Department.
Many of the groups threw candy to the kids, who picked it up and put it into reusable grocery bags provided by GCI communications and SEARHC (the local hospital). It looks like a bigger haul for some kids than Halloween. But some of the kids, in a crazed sugar rush, darted in front of trucks and floats to retrieve candy. My heart was in my mouth and for me the candy scramble in Lincoln Street is the one thing I would change about the parade. Much it its credit SeaMart grocery paraded down the street with grocery carts handing out bananas.
The parade ended at around 2 PM and people headed for various events, many to the reenactment of the transfer ceremony on Castle Hill, an increasing number each year to the Tlingit Mourning and Reconciliation at the base of Noow Tlein (the proper name of Castle Hill). Others went to the various teas and feeds. I attended the ceremony at the base of Noow Tlein but decided to hike up the bridge to take pictures from above. As I did, as if on schedule, after all, the parade was over, the rain came pouring down. I tried to take pictures but umbrellas popped up and made it hard to see much more than the tops of the brollies. I got into my car and stopped at the Sally Ann on the way home, for some more of Alaska Dave’s donuts. Dave game me a plastic bag so the warm donuts didn’t get soaked on the way to the car. Buy the time I drove the two to our house the rain had stopped, or perhaps the sucker hole had just moved a little to the southeast.
One blog page can only hold about 32 pictures before becoming very slow loading so I have 32 more pictures on the next page “Alaska Day Parade, 2019 Take 2.” I also have posted a separate page “Reconciliation Day.”
You can also read about and see pictures of an Alaska Day kick off event, the Historical Society’s Brew Cruise.