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Happy (almost) Alaska Day, Juneau

Learn more about the state holiday at Senior Center pancake breakfast on Friday

Posted: October 17, 2013 - 12:10am

Do you know the difference between Alaska Day and Seward’s Day?

We could tell you, but a local historian has a sweeter proposal. (Spoiler alert: It involves pancakes.)

John Venables, who created the educational program Alaska Living History and reprises the roles of historical Alaskan figures, will be serving coffee and greeting guests at a pancake breakfast this Alaska Day, Friday, Oct. 18, at the Juneau Senior Center.

Juneauites of all ages are invited to pull up a chair next to his and learn a little about why students and state workers have the day off and why the libraries and city offices are closed. (The city buses will still be operating on Friday, and the Treadwell Arena and Dimond Park pool will also be open during normal hours.)

“It’s important to know Alaska history, heritage and culture,” Venables said. “That’s why we celebrate the two state holidays.”

The re-enactor will not be hard to miss amid the breakfast crowd — he says he will be dressed in character sporting a black judicial robe and a fake mustache. He will be speaking English, though, despite noting, “If it weren’t for Alaska Day, we would all be speaking Russian right now.”

Venables said there’s another good reason to attend the pancake breakfast. It raises money for a good cause, and all the proceeds will go directly to the Senior Nutrition Program. The cost of attending is $12 for adults and $6 for children 6 years old and under.

For those history buffs who cannot attend, Venables will be hosting another event celebrating Alaska Day later this month: an Alaska Day parade inside the Nugget Mall, which will kick off at approximately 4 p.m. on Oct. 30. Venables hinted that some of the Assembly members will be marching inside the mall led by the parade’s grand marshal and a drum majorette. The theme of the parade is “March to the Beat of a Different Drum.”

“There’s no telling what else could happen in the next week,” Venables said, adding that groups are still being added to the parade’s final list of participants.

Aside from enjoying a plateful of pancakes or watching a parade, Venables said he hopes people will come out to learn about Alaskan history. He said if a street survey were ever conducted asking what Alaska Day is really about, his aim is to have everyone answer correctly.

“I’m in the educating business, so I’m trying to get the word out,” he said, adding, “I have the most wonderful hobby that a (retiree) can have.”

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at




WHAT: Pancake Breakfast

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Juneau Senior Center, 895 West 12th Street

COST: $12 for adults; $6 for children 6 and under


WHAT: Alaska Day Parade

WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 30, at approximately 4 p.m.

WHERE: Nugget Mall

COST: Free of charge


Note: Can’t wait until Friday’s pancake breakfast to learn more about Alaska Day, or how it’s different from Seward’s Day? Click here to read John Venables tell the story in his own words in an article that was published in the Juneau Empire last year:



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