Fourth of July is a civic holiday. Christmas and Thanksgiving are for families and church. Labor Day and Memorial Day have evolved away from civic celebration to family picnics that bracket summer. Independence Day is a time for communities to gather, meet and eat together, ooh and aah at fireworks, listen to public concerts, play games together and to parade.
I missed being out in the community last year on the Fourth. I pulled a leg muscle so was a little gimpy but that didn’t stop me. I took a lawn chair and hang out in Totem Square. I parked my chair behind the cathedral as the parade went by. There is a lot to be said for just hanging out. At the square and the adjacent street between the Totem Square and Raven Radio there were all sorts of food booths and trucks, kids’ games, a performance of Sitka Cirque, a block dance, a stage with local performers and after the parade, kid’s contests, relays, sack races, hula hoop contests.
And there is the parade where you can cheer on the Coast Guard, our firefighters, our elders and our newspaper. Our parade is not so big, but it is not small either, not like Skagway’s which goes around the block several times to make it seem longer. Once we took my parents to July 4th in Skagway and Pop said, “This group looks familiar.” I told him he has seen them three times before.
“They just keep going around the block?”
Our parade is longer and while a highlight, most of all it is a day to meet friends, marvel at our kids’ skills on the silks or hopping in gunny sacks and to renew conversations interrupted a year and a half ago by this pandemic.
And next year I hope all the events will be back, especially the water fight where the Coast Guard and the Fire Department each grab a fire hose and try to push a beer keg across the goal line while getting everyone, and I mean everyone, wet. But that’s ok, we live in a rainforest and were probably wet already. Although not this year, no water fight and no rain.