One of my best friends from college is in town this weekend, and Scott and his girlfriend could not have picked a better time to visit. Juneau is in top form. There's a street party and festival Sunday, traditional Alaska Native dancers in full regalia performing tonight and Saturday, classical ballet, concerts in the park and, best of all, Southeast Alaska in full springtime glory.
Celebration has to be one of the finest Juneau events you could lay on out-of-town guests. Hundreds of regalia-bedecked dancers from across Southeast are here to celebrate tradition. Pow wows down south offer some fine dancing, but they are nothing like this.
The Saturday parade is always a highlight - this year it's a little earlier in the day. It's scheduled to begin around 8:30 or 9 a.m. at the Mount Roberts Tram terminal on South Franklin and will proceed up to Centennial Hall. It will probably last at least two hours. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more festive and photogenic group of people.
Dancers will be performing until about 10 tonight, and from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Hall and the ANB Hall.
A completely different kind of dance performance is taking place at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. Ballet masters Rio Mitani and Christian Martinu are performing the leads in ``Romeo and Juliet,'' a neo-classical ballet based on the familiar Shakespeare classic.
The first half of the program will be a combination dance recital and performance featuring more than a hundred dancers from Juneau Dance Unlimited. ``Le Cirque,'' or ``The Circus,'' will highlight a range of dance styles, from hip-hop and jazz to modern, with original choreography by Juneau dancers.
Shows are at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. A reception follows the Saturday night performance.
Festivities continue Sunday afternoon and evening with the Gay Pride Carnival in front of the Silverbow Inn. Just as you do not have to be Native to attend Celebration, you do not have to be gay to come to this street party. The event is open to the entire community.
It begins at noon with speakers and songs from the Pride Chorus, and moves on to magic, balloon animals and storytelling. Alaska's minister of merriment and master of balloons Jeff Brown will inflate and create, and Brett Dillingham will relate tales.
A mix of bands and musicians are performing, from kids' musicians to rock bands. Street parties in Juneau are a blast when the weather cooperates, and this looks promising.
Other events this weekend include magician Dave Womach from Washington performing a family magic night Sunday at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium. ``Fry Tales'' also opens at Perseverance Theatre.
There's nothing like having visitors to remind you how nice it is here. Travellers come from all over the world to visit, and sometimes we forget why. Part of it is the incredible landscape.
I'd like to take my friends up for a plane ride to check out the icefield and the mountains. A few years ago I called a bunch of pilots and asked them their recommendations on the best one-hour flight from Juneau. The most intriguing was a suggestion to fly out over Berners Bay, up the Antler River and cruise over the icefield, then back around. There's some big mountains, steep valleys and plunging cataracts there.
A tip that many locals already know - you can charter a plane for this kind of trip for less than half of what tourists pay for flightseeing. Of course, you need to get five or six friends in on it to split the cost, but it comes out to about $60, a pretty good deal for a reminder that we live in a glorious place.