PUBLISHED: 6:06 PM on Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Two weeks of Alaska Day festivities in store for Sitka
SITKA - Every year, Sitka celebrates the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States with two weeks of festivities. The celebration peaks on October 18, which marks the anniversary of the 1867 transfer of Alaska.

The first recorded celebration of Alaska Day was in 1949, and Alaska Day Festival, Inc. was formed in 1954 to perpetuate the annual celebration.

All males are encouraged to grow beards and women to dress in period clothing for the duration of the festival.

The theme for this year's celebration is "140 years of Sitka Newspapers." The first newspaper published after Alaska was purchased from Russia was the "Sitka Times," first published in 1868.

There are a variety of performances the week leading up to Alaska Day, including the Oct. 11 Monthly Grind variety show and the New Archangel Dancers end-of-season show of traditional Russian folk dances on Oct. 13. Visiting Japanese ballet dancer and violinists will perform Oct. 12 and 15.

The Alaska Day Ball, held the evening before Alaska Day, is a social highlight of the celebration, in which men and women promenade in period costume and native regalia.

Alaska Day events on Oct. 18 include a road race, a military memorial service, Russian fish pie sale, a commemorative ceremony of the 1867 transfer and croquet tournament finals.

The Alaska Day Parade showcases decorated vehicles, costumed individuals and groups, bands and dancers. The parade winds through town from Swan Lake to Lincoln Street to Totem Square. The parade ends at the site of the festival's main event, the reenactment of the 1867 ceremony atop Castle Hill.

For more information and the complete schedule of events, visit