With Boardwalk Boogie delayed to fall, residents fill gap

Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2005

There have only been six Boardwalk Boogies in Pelican, but the three-to-four day party, normally held in early May, has become an institution in the town of 200, 70 miles west of Juneau on Chichagof Island.

When word came in early March that this year's Boogie was postponed until September, Pelican's boardwalk business owners decided they needed to act.

The result is the Pelican Boardwalk Shuffle, Thursday-Saturday, May 5-7.

"This isn't something Juneau is doing for us; this is something that local people are doing for themselves," said Steve Daniels, owner of the brand-new Highliner Lodge. "We really appreciate what the Boogie has done for the town, and the whole idea of this stems from the Boogie. We don't want to disappoint those people that come out in May."

Admission is free for the weekend. The party begins Thursday night with a free taco and tequila feed at Rose's Bar & Grill in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

Rose's will have The Sound Boys, from Juneau, both nights. On Saturday, owner Rose Miller will celebrate her birthday with a Hawaiian luau, a local tradition for more than 30 years before the Boogie started. Expect one or more pigs to be roasted.

Primo Primasio, Miller's guest from Hawaii, will emcee the bar's karaoke contest Saturday night. The evening will also include a wet T-shirt contest, a dance contest, a limbo contest, a midnight underwear run along the boardwalk and more sordid revelry.

"When we found out the Boogie wasn't going to happen until September, we were like, 'Heck, let's throw our own party,'" Miller said.

The Wheelwatch, also known as The Brown Bar and formerly known as The Pelican Bar and Grill, will have Juneau's Daddy-O (guitarist Sam Burrous, bass player C. Scott Fry, harmonica player Sean Tracey and drummer Dale McFarlin) on Friday and Saturday nights.

The bar will be open late each night.

"The Boogie is a pretty large party," said Wheelwatch owner Mick Shockey. "Last year we had a couple hundred people come in from out of town. When you only have 75 to 85 year-round residents, that's a big portion.

"To get a few people over here and to get something going again just takes the pressure off a little bit," Shockey said. "Without the cold storage operating, it's a long wait to have sport fishermen maybe start arriving in June. It's been a long winter, and it's nice to have something to fire us up in May."

The Highliner, Daniels' new hotel/apartment/sauna/Internet cafe/liquor store at the top of the main boat ramp, will hold its grand opening on Friday. The day's festivities include an open house all day, an art show with new, old and unreleased works from Pelican wood carver Eric Bealer from 5-8 p.m., wine and beer tasting courtesy of Alaska Distributing from 6-8 p.m. and a concert with Stewart Ely and Keith Heller from 8 p.m. until late.

Ely and Heller last played together on a Sunday morning at Rose's Bar, during the Boogie two or three years ago, Daniels said.

"It was almost like going to church," he said. "It was just really wholesome and a lot of fun. We all felt like we made a small atonement for the night-people."

The Highliner is interested in hosting musicians Saturday night. If interested, call Steve at 877-386-0397.

Also on Saturday, the community will host the Ducky Races (a Boogie staple) at 1 p.m., and a craft fair at the community hall. The Lisianski Cafe will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as will the local store. Gas and ice for boats will be available too.

"The Boogie isn't really going to put a lot of money in my pocket, but it does get people thinking about Pelican and seeing the possibility of what could be here," Daniels said.

"There are things happening here, like our salmon derby," he said.

"We're doing things for ourselves, and we're forging ahead. And maybe they're little steps right now, but I think they're steps in the right direction.

"People aren't afraid to invest here, or to build here or to create something here, whether it be another event like the Boardwalk Shuffle or a salmon derby or the Highliner Lodge. A lot of the folks here have worked really hard on this."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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