Around 200 people wearing traditional Native regalia, drumming, cooking, eating and visiting gathered on the shore of Auke Bay Wednesday afternoon to welcome three canoes making their gradual approach from Angoon.
Those canoes signaled the "unofficial kickoff to the official events" of Celebration, a festival of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures sponsored by the Sealaska Heritage Institute.
Doug Chilton of Juneau helped coordinate the canoe trip with the Goldbelt Corp. Chilton, who is originally from Angoon, said this is the second such unofficial start to the multi-day event. Two years ago, at the beginning of the last Celebration, Chilton and others made the trip from Hoonah.
This year, travelers from houses including the Coho, Raven Beaver, Raven Frog and Eagle Killer Whale made the trip from Angoon.
The travelers left Angoon Monday morning and spent Monday night in Square Cove and Tuesday night on Shelter Island.
After encountering a little "nasty weather" and losing a little gear Wednesday morning, they were joined by two more canoes and, escorted by a safety boat provided by Wild Alaska, completed the trip to arrive in Juneau in the early afternoon.
Celebration runs from June 2 to June 5.