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Bask in appreciation, Juneau

Juneau Appreciation Day lets locals play tourist for the day (on the cheap)

Posted: April 30, 2014 - 3:16pm  |  Updated: May 1, 2014 - 12:09am

This day is for you, Juneau.

Think of it as a chance to play downtown before tourists swarm South Franklin and towering cruise ships block the view of the channel from the library. Or, maybe, as a chance to enjoy touristy activities that would normally be a little too expensive to indulge.

Either way, local businesses want Juneauites to bask in appreciation during Juneau Appreciation Day, which will be split into two days this year: Saturday and May 10. Businesses will offer discounts to locals so they can play tourist on the cheap before the summer season is in full swing.

Deals range from discounted helicopter tours of the Taku Glacier to ziplining at Eaglecrest. At the very least, you can get a free hot dog at DIPAC.

Juneau Appreciation Day is typically held before the first cruise ship arrives, although this year it falls on the third day of the season (Saturday). Because a ship will be in port that day, albeit a small one, some businesses — including the Mount Roberts Tramway — are holding their Juneau Appreciation Day the following Saturday, May 10, when the cruise ship calendar is empty. May 10 also coincides with the Maritime Festival downtown.

Two big events usually anchor the celebration: discounted tram rides and the lunchtime barbecue at the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Macaulay Salmon Hatchery.

DIPAC Tourism and Education Manager Katie Harms said they will host an appreciation day from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’ll be grilling out from 1 to 3,” she said, hinting that a salmon mascot may make a special guest appearance. “We will have food — hot dogs, chili, chips and soda.”

Inside the Channel Drive building across from the Juneau Empire, kids tables will be set up inside with arts and crafts activities.

“They’ll also be able to touch some touch-tank critters and explore our aquarium, and the gift shop will be open,” Harms said.

Outside, visitors will be able to see 2-year-old King salmon jumping through the four raceways before they are released later this month.

General Manager of the Mount Roberts Tramway, Jim Duncan, said his business will be celebrating Juneau Appreciation Day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 10. The tram will be offering all-day unlimited rides for $15 instead of the usual $32.

All proceeds from the day’s ticket prices will go to the Juneau Raptor Center, the volunteer nonprofit that nurses and rehabilitates injured eagles, owls and other birds. The raptor center will also give an educational presentation on birds during the event. The restaurant at the top of the tram, Timberline Bar & Grill, will offer special discounted meals, Duncan said. Those prices weren’t immediately available.

Like the tramway, Alaska Zipline Adventures will offer a special one-day deal for locals on May 10. They are offering two ziplining tours that day at noon and 2 p.m. for $75, more than half off the normal rate.

Co-owner Gin Anderson said the three-and-a-half hour tours will be the “full tour experience,” which includes seven ziplines in the canopy-based course that zigzags over Fish Creek. The highest platform is 100 feet and the longest zipline is 850 feet.

“I think it’s really scenic, and it’s kind of a cool way to see Eaglecrest,” Anderson said. “A lot of people don’t know that we’re back there, and it’s just kind of a different view than on skis. On a clear day like today, you have a 360 (degree) view of Ben Stewart and the lodge and where the Ptarmigan lift is. A cool thing, too, is you’re in the trees. You’re getting a first-hand experience of being in the western hemlocks and Sitka spruce trees. You don’t realize how big those trees are until you’re in them.”

After the tour, participants can try their hand at being lumberjacks by tossing axes at two full-sized targets.

“We give them axes and they have at it,” Anderson said. “It’s a pretty fun way to end the tour.”

Only 18 spots are available for each of the two tours, so locals who want to go should R.S.V.P. quickly by calling 321-1947, she said. They can also help with transportation if needed.

Another Saturday Juneau Appreciation Day deal is through Era Helicopters, which is offering discounted glacier landing flights. The hour-long tour includes 35 minutes of flightseeing time south of Juneau, eventually landing on the Taku Glacier. Participants get about 25 minutes to walk on and explore the glacier with the pilot as their guide.

“You get to take pictures and see cool glacier pools,” Era manager Sarah Lowell said.

Lowell said it’s nice for locals to get a chance to visit a glacier other than the Mendenhall Glacier.

“It’s the largest and only advancing glacier on the Juneau icefield,” she added. “It’s beautiful.”

The tour is normally $299, but with the one-day only local rate of 20 percent off, that comes to $239.20. Space on the tours is limited, so again, people are encouraged to reserve a spot by calling 586-2030. The tours depart at 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. on Saturday.

Business owners love partaking in Juneau Appreciation Day, now a longtime tradition in Juneau, said Leeann Thomas, owner of the downtown Triangle Club Bar and a longtime member of the Downtown Business Association.

“We have all these great things to offer and our local people don’t always have time for them in the summer because they’re working, and the downtown places are so busy,” she said. “Before the tourists come, we give them a day that they can enjoy all the great things that happen all summer long.”

She paused and added, “And who doesn’t like to go up on the tram and get discounts?”

Editor’s note: Is your business doing something special for Juneau Appreciation Day? If so let us know by posting a comment to this article online at www.juneauempire.com.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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