DIPAC floats to the rescue of July Fourth fireworks show

Hatchery provides barge for Juneau's annual pyrotechnics display

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2003

The Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery long has provided one of the staples of a Juneau summer: salmon. This summer, it will provide another fixture: a barge from which to launch the annual July 4 fireworks show above Gastineau Channel.

Until Thursday, Ron Flint, who is organizing this year's fireworks display, had not found a barge to base the launch of $25,000 worth of fireworks the city bought for the holiday.

"There's just not a lot of (barges) laying around," Flint said.

In previous years, the Anderson Barge Co. donated the use of a barge for the display. When the Andersons retired, other sources had to be tapped. Last year, a barge that Princess Cruise Line had hired to resupply a cruise ship was used.

This year, though, local barge companies had booked their barges for other, paying projects, Flint said. One local barge is being repaired in Seattle, another is at a project in Hoonah and a Navy barge that was in Juneau will be in Ketchikan in July.

Flint called City Manager Rod Swope, who is on the board of directors for DIPAC, Wednesday morning to explain the dilemma. Swope called DIPAC to see if the hatchery had a float the city could use, and by Thursday morning the problem of the barge was nearly solved.

"It looks like it should be fine," said Flint after inspecting the barge Thursday morning.

DIPAC uses the barge in its hatchery operations between March and early June, said Rick Focht, director of research and evaluation for the hatchery. Since the timing is right, providing a barge could become an annual tradition for the hatchery.

As it has for as long as most people in Juneau can remember, the fireworks show will start soon after midnight July 3, in the first minutes of July 4, said Flint.

The fireworks display is one of numerous events the city, the Juneau Festival Association and the Douglas Fourth of July Committee are planning for this year's Independence Day celebration.

Activities will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 3, with the 105th annual Douglas Volunteer Fire Department Invitational Softball Game, on field No. 4 at Savikko Park.

The game, between volunteer department teams, got pretty wild in the pioneering days of Southeast Alaska.

"There would be fights, people getting beat up, losing teeth and going to the hospital," said Pat Peterson, the president of the Douglas Fourth of July Committee. "But things have calmed down a bit now."

Festivities the next day will start with the Juneau Fourth of July Parade at 11 a.m. at the Department of Labor parking lot on Egan Drive, said Gerald Dorsher, who co-chairs the Juneau Festival Association with his wife, Beverly. The Juneau Festival Association organizes the Juneau parade.

Registration forms for the parade are available at the Mendenhall Public Library or at the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau in Centennial Hall. The forms must be returned to either of those locations, and reproductions of the forms will not be accepted.

Parade fees for a float or decorated vehicle are $35; custom and classic vehicles are $10; marching units and animal units are $5; and youth units consisting of children under the age of 16 are free.

Retired Superior Court Judge Tom Stewart, a longtime Juneau resident who was secretary for the Alaska Constitutional Convention in 1955-56, will be the grand marshal for the Juneau parade.

Once the floats, bands and other parade entries head up Franklin Street and down Front Street to Main Street, they'll retrace their steps on Egan Drive until they reach the Douglas Bridge. From there, many participants will continue over the bride to assemble at 1 p.m. at Gastineau Elementary School for the Douglas parade.

The Douglas parade will begin at 1:30 and head through downtown Douglas. Wayne and Rita Jensen, who were instrumental in the planning and construction of the Treadwell Arena, will be the grand marshals of the Douglas Parade.

Participants in the Douglas parade do not have to preregister or pay a fee, said Peterson.

While the parade marches down Douglas Highway, a sandcastle contest will be held a Sandy Beach and a beef barbecue dinner will be served at the Douglas Community United Methodist Church.

Web links

Juneau Festival Association: www.geocities.com/jfa02us

Douglas Fourth of July Committee: www.douglas4thofjulycommittee.com/

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