PUBLISHED: 2:34 PM on Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Juneau, Douglas to hold Fourth of July celebrations
"Freedom of Speech" is the theme of this year's parade in Juneau, which is expected to attract between 80 and 100 groups of participants, and throngs of excited spectators. "People in the community offer suggestions each year about what the theme should be, and the committee picks the one that they think is best," explained Gerald Dorsher, who has been involved with Juneau's Fourth of July parade for more than 25 years. "We felt that 'freedom of speech' was a particularly good theme, especially with the current conditions in the world."
The parade, which will begin on Egan Drive at 11 a.m., will feature hundreds of floats and costumes designed to bring the theme to life. "While the entire parade is just great, I think the most amazing thing is how the people of Juneau come up with ideas that coincide with the theme," said Dorsher. "To me, that's really the high point."
Pugh says that he has often participated in the event over the years, representing different groups. "My family has been in the parade representing the St. Ann's Daycare Center, and I've also marched for political causes and candidates," he said. "My daughter and her friend have dressed up as clowns and roller-skated through the parade."
After the Juneau parade winds its way around downtown, those people who want to be in the Douglas parade will head over the bridge to join in the festivities there, which begin at 2 p.m. Long-time Alaskans Fred and Jirdes Baxter will serve as the Douglas parade's grand marshals.
Jirdes was recently honored in both Anchorage and Nome for being the last living survivor of the 1925 diphtheria epidemic. "I was only 11 months old, so I only know what my mother told me about it," she said of the event, in which a sled dog team mushed hundreds of miles carrying serum from Nenana to the ailing community. That journey is now immortalized by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Retired since 1983, the couple is looking forward to participating in this year's parade. "We always go to the parade, and I especially love the bands-I don't think there's enough band music," said Jirdes. "I also think the Filipino group is really good. And it's just fun to see all of the little kids doing their thing."