Grand marshals set for July 4 parades

Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Juneau Fourth of July parade grand marshals George and Jean Rogers have glamorous shoes to fill - past luminaries in local parades have included George Kennedy, Patty Duke and Shirley Temple.

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"We used to bring in movie stars years ago," said Juneau Fourth of July Parade Committee Director Gerald Dorsher. "Then we decided we would have local dignitaries."

For this year's parade in Douglas, Barbara Bell, Claudette Curtis and Carlene Bednarowicz have been chosen as the grand marshals.

"These are people that just do a lot of good things around the community," Douglas Fourth of July Committee member Rich Poor said. "These are just people who get out there and volunteer and do things that a lot of people just don't think about doing."

With Fourth of July only several weeks away, organizers are making preparations for fireworks and other Independence Day festivities.

Dorsher said the committee was still looking for more floats to participate in the Independence Day celebrations.

"The entries are pretty slow coming in," he said.

Entries are due by Monday. Information for entrants can be found at Centennial Hall or the Mendenhall Valley Library, he said.

There are no deadlines for the Douglas parade.

Poor said there are some exciting new events and some old favorites coming up for this year's festivities on the island.

"We're going to have a steamboat race," he said. "That's something that we haven't had in the past."

As for Juneau's grand marshals, the Rogers have been living in Juneau since January of 1945, when George Rogers was given a wartime job to tackle inflation issues in Alaska.

"He was sent here by the government to roll back the price of fish," Jean Rogers said. "As soon as we arrived, he knew that was not going to be a possibility."

The war ended several months later, and George Rogers went to work for territorial Gov. Ernest Gruening to help get Alaska ready for statehood. Impressed by his work as an economic advisor, Gruening put Rogers to work reforming the way Alaska collected taxes.

"He wanted (George) to set up a tax system," said Jean Rogers. "The taxes were really skipping a lot of things."

The couple relocated outside Juneau for small periods of time, including stints in Fairbanks, in Massachusetts and a year in England.

"After those episodes we have been here and we intend to stay," Jean Rogers said.

When not working as a homemaker, Jean Rogers said she has spent much of her time volunteering in the community.

This is the third year in a row that the Rogers will be participating in the parade, she said.

"It's fun," Jean Rogers said. "It's very interesting to be in the parade and see all the faces."

• Eric Morrison can be reached at 523-2269 or

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