If your family happens to be spending Independence Day in Alaska, it’s only fair to warn you: We don’t do July 4th like other places. What we lose in darknesss and fireworks, we make up for in self-silly antics, shenanigans, and otherwise crazy celebrations that are for sure, uniquely Alaskan. No matter where you and your crew might be this holiday week, AKontheGO has your list of community festivals and events, starting with our hometown of Anchorage. So put on your red, white, and blue pinwheel glasses and join the party! Independence? Yeah, we got that. Below are a few fun ideas…
Anchorage: Downtown puts on a delightfully family-friendly celebration each July 4, with a pancake breakfast, parade, and carnival on the Delany Park Strip (9th and 10th Avenues). Show up for breakfast around 9 a.m., then settle in along the curb for the parade, which begins at 11. Lots of local kids, organizations, and bands will be on hand to encourage the tapping of toes and singing of anthems. Find more info HERE.
Seward: Only in Alaska will a crowd of ultra-fit folks turn out to rush up a steep, rocky mountain, tag its top, then run headlong back down. What’s even crazier is the accompanying crowd of spectators who cheer them on. That’s the Mount Marathon race, begun in 1915 as a bet between two locals, and now an icon of this Kenai Peninsula community’s July 4th. If you go, be prepared for hordes of people, few lodging options, and plenty of chaos. But, you’ll also see a race like none other, especially the Junior Race (halfway up), where kids test their mettle. The race begins at 10 a.m., so head to Seward early, take in the race, then head back to Anchorage. It’s a long day, so consider staying overnight at Alyeska Resort to save some sanity. Event info can be found by calling 907-224-8051.
Whittier: Hey – the tiny town of Whittier has big plans for the 4th, as they do every year! This is one community 4th of July celebration that truly does embrace young people, and we love their kids’ games, cookout, and parade. The fun starts at 11 a.m. with a parade (anyone can join in!), and kids’ activities start at noon and last until 4 p.m. On your way in or out of town, near the Anderson Tunnel, stop in at Begich, Boggs, Visitor Center in Portage and check out the latest glacial information with the kids. Fascinating and fun to learn about the Portage Valley area, and those uber-chilly glaciers!
Valdez: Come hang out with AK Fam in Valdez at their 4th of July Pink Salmon Festival! We’re going to be there most of this week, enjoying a parade, fun run, kayak jousting (uh, maybe not that), and pink salmon fishing fest.I even get to judge the salmon cook-off; Rachel Ray, help me!!!! We’ll be boarding the Alaska Marine Highway and taking a watery journey to this lovely Prince William Sound community, where Uncle Salmon reigns this week. Find the full schedule of events, HERE, including the Tourist Parade (who’s with me?).
Homer: Another celebration with old-fashioned appeal, Homer will host a community parade at this “End of the Road” town on July 4th, along with numerous other cosmic events. Call the Homer Chamber at 907-235-7740 for info, or keep tabs on events via their website.
Seldovia: “You otter be here for a whale of a time.” Yes, this small town near Homer, accessible only by boat or plane, is planning their annual 4th of July fun, with a fun run starting things off at 8 a.m. Join the parade at 10:30, followed by children’s activities at 12:30. The trip is also an integral element to this day across the bay, with otters, sea birds, and the occasional whale making an appearance; find transportation options HERE.
Juneau: The Juneau/Douglas 4th of July party happens to begin on Tuesday, July 3rd, with fireworks over the rugged mountains of town. Don’t miss the Independence Day parade on the 4th, followed by a sandcastle contest, firemen’s race, and dog-frisbee competition. If you happen to be in the Capital City, this is a great way to celebrate our nation’s birthday, “Independence Day, the Independent Way.”
A few things to remember, should your family spend a day adventuring among Alaskans on the 4th: Bring appropriate clothing for rain, wind, sun, and whatever else mother nature decides to dish out, because we never know. Bring cash, since some small-towns, even today, still appreciate the hard-earned dollar over a VISA card. Bring a good attitude; Independence Day is an intensely personal, community-minded way for Alaskans to get together and have a good time. We may not be fancy, or the most organized, but by golly, we’ll make sure you and your family are warmly welcomed.
March to the tune of our drummer, this week, and enjoy your 4th, Alaska-style!
REMEMBER: You can share your 4th of July photos on the AKontheGO.com website; just scroll down to the bottom of our home page and follow the directions. It’s easy and fun!