It’s safe to assume that the Fourth of July is one of the biggest days of the year in Juneau. Beginning the night of July 3, thousands of Juneauites show their patriotic pride by participating in late-night festivities in downtown Juneau, accompanied by midnight fireworks over the Gastineau channel.
The day of the fourth is nothing if not eventful, with parts of downtown closed off in both Juneau and Douglas to make way for the much-anticipated Fourth of July parades. And what better way to celebrate the fourth and parades by appropriately naming this year’s Juneau Fourth of July parade theme as, “I Love A Parade.” There are few who can say they love, or have participated in parades, more than this year’s Juneau Parade Grand Marshal Dick Garrison.
Dick Garrison is one of few people who can say he has participated in every Juneau Fourth of July parade “since the beginning of time.”
“Every year it’s been, I’ve been in the parade,” he said. “I’d blow the trombone.”
With the exception of the past few years, Garrison has played the trombone in the Fourth of July Parade Marking Band for the past 60 years. As a 95 year-old veteran, Garrison has certainly proven his dedication to participating in the parade and celebrating his independence.
“I think it’s quite an honor,” Garrison said. “I think it’s going to be an experience of a lifetime and I’m quite honored, really. I don’t know how they came about choosing me, but of course I’ve been around here a long time.”
According to Jean Sztuk, the director of the Juneau Fourth of July Parade, the grand marshal is chosen by the parade’s panel based on the prospective marshal’s “merits and service to the community and that state.”
Not only has Garrison participated in (almost) every parade, but he is also the only living participant that has fished in every single Golden North Salmon Derby. That’s 67 years worth of Salmon Derby-ing.
“I’m the only one that has a free, lifetime pass to the Golden North Salmon Derby,” said Garrison. “The only year I would have won, I caught a 52 ... pound fish on the second day. Then by the end of the derby, someone caught a 59 pound fish.”
The 59-pound fish is still the record today.
Garrison also served as the co-chair of the Salmon Derby, played in the Juneau Symphony and his own dance band, and was at one time the only person in Juneau qualified to fix and repair televisions and radios.
“I’m excited more out of respect,” he said. “I’m kind of excited to know what they’re going to do with me. Put me in the back of a truck and wave like the Queen Mary, or what? I don’t quite know what I’m in for.”
During the parade, Garrison will be accompanied by his wife.