CELEBRATION: It's time to celebrate tradition

Event expected to draw more than 5,000 people across the country

Posted: Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Forty-seven dance groups, five more than in 2002, will star in Celebration 2004, Thursday-Sunday at Centennial Hall, the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, Sealaska Plaza, the Mount Roberts Tramway and Marine Park.

The Sealaska Heritage Institute expects the biennial Native dance-and-culture festival, conceived in 1980, to draw more than 5,000 people from Alaska, the Lower 48 and Canada.

Due to space constraints, the institute had to turn away nine dance groups from the Lower 48 and outside Southeast, according to a press release. Fifty-two dance groups were registered, but at least five had dropped out as of Tuesday, according to Sealaska.

"Celebration is growing beyond the region and beyond Alaska," said Rosita Worl, president of Sealaska Heritage Institute, in the releases. "We will be looking at ways to accommodate the groups in the future by expanding Celebration, perhaps increasing the number of days."

The festival will feature more than 1,700 dancers, an opening procession, a Saturday parade, a black seaweed contest, canoe races at Sandy Beach, Native artist workshops, a Native language fair, a storytelling forum, a Juried Art Show and a Native Artist Market. The market, traditionally held at the National Guard Armory, has been moved to Centennial Hall.

This year's theme is "Strength of Body, Mind and Spirit," translated to "Haa Latseen" in Tlingit, "Gudangay" in Haida and "Tcka Yu-gyetg" in Tsimshian.

A few events begin today. Sealaska will host the opening reception and awards ceremony for the Juried Art Show from 5 to 6:30 p.m. today in the lobby at One Sealaska Plaza. Canoe teams will be welcomed during the traditional Coming Ashore Ceremony, 7 to 9 p.m. today at Marine Park downtown.

Three-day passes are available today at Centennial Hall. They also can be purchased at the Sealaska Heritage office at One Sealaska Plaza. Cost is $12 for students (ages 8-18) and elders (65 and up) and $25 for adults.

One-day tickets can be purchased on the day of the events. Admission is $5 for students and elders, and $10 for adults.

Celebration's special guest will be the Rangimarie (ranjeemarie) Maori dance group from New Zealand. Rangimarie translates to "peace and harmony" in Maori. The group will be featured at 1 p.m. Friday, June 4, at ANB Hall, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 5, at Centennial Hall.

Rangimarie also will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 4, at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium in a show sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. The Alaska Youth Choir will open. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, Rainy Day Books and the arts council office, 206 North Franklin Street.

Participants in Thursday's Grand Entrance should gather in front of the ANB Hall on Willoughby Avenue at 7:30 a.m. The march begins at 8 a.m. at Fireweed Place and stretches a short distance down the street to Centennial Hall. The 2002 Grand Entrance was on Whittier Street.

Traffic will be affected on Willoughby Avenue, Village Street and West Third Street. Several parking lots - the State Office Building, Department of Environmental Conservation, 400 Willoughby Avenue Building and Fireweed Place - will be closed from 7:45 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Participants in Saturday's Celebration 2004 Parade will assemble in the Mount Roberts Tramway parking lot, off South Franklin Street, at 7:30 a.m. The parade will take its usual course, up South Franklin Street to Front Street, left on Front, down Front to Main Street, left on Main, down Main to Egan/Marine Way, right on Egan/Marine Way, down Egan/Marine Way, right on Willoughby Avenue, down Willoughby Avenue and to Centennial Hall.

Traffic will be closed on Marine Way, Admiral Way, Ferry Way, Shattuck Street, Seward Street, Main Street, Egan Drive and Willoughby Avenue. The parade runs from 8 to 11 a.m.

Dance groups will march in both parades in the order in which they perform in the dance group schedule.

The Southeast Alaska Native Veterans will lead both parades, followed by this year's lead dance group, the Sitka Kaagwaantaan, and Rangimarie.

For more information, visit www.sealaskaheritage.org.

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