Juneau celebrates freedom on Fourth

Parade features patriotism, politics and fun

Posted: Thursday, July 05, 2007

Within a long line of patriotic floats, marching bands and dancers in Juneau's Fourth of July parade, two entries took advantage of their right to free speech.

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The parade's theme was "Freedom is not Free." Most of the political entries supported various military organizations past and present.

Southeast Native Veterans from as far back as World War II rode their parade-winning float listing their past battles for American freedom, from Attu to Normandy. Eaglecrest Ski Area's float, which included a moving mountain, credited the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division with making the world a safer place to ski.

Two other entries were less traditional.

Cheering crowds hushed slightly as Veterans for Peace marched through downtown Juneau, the group's float draped in large black chains declaring that "Freedom is unfree."

"I hope we didn't upset too many people," said John Dunker, Veterans for Peace member.

The veteran's entry started out with 75 marchers, but grew en route to a moving peace flotilla of 250 people - by far the largest entourage of the day.

Juneau parade winners

Most patriotic and best in parade - Southeast Native Veterans.

Best use of theme - Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Most Alaskan - Turning Tides.

Best commercial - Martha's Flowers.

Best animals - Pugs on Parade.

Best marching group - Ati-Atihan.

Best classic car - Ken and Reah Evens.

Best custom vehicle - Bruce Campbell.

Best antique vehicle - Don Able Building Supply.

For the rest of the results from July Fourth events, please see Friday's paper.

Farther back in the procession came Joseph Frederick, the creator of a controversial "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner, which led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on free speech. The court decided in favor of the Juneau School District, which had suspended Frederick because of the banner he raised at a school-sanctioned, off-campus event.

Handing out hundreds of copies of the Bill of Rights, Frederick walked the parade route in front of a white Ford Mustang with a newly revised banner saying "Free Speech for Juneau."

"Study these rights and remember them," Frederick said.

About half a dozen teenagers joined Frederick in handing out the Bill of Rights.

Longtime parade fan Jack Fargnoli rated this year's event.

"I give it a six out of 10 this year," he said, noting the parade was bigger, but less political than it often is.

"The best part is seeing all the families that come down and watch from the same corners every year," Allison Fargnoli said.

Juneau resident Chris Cart agreed. "This is all hometown."

Following Juneau's parade, the crowds rushed to the Douglas parade and more of the holiday competitions and barbecue. People and food filled Savikko Park as races, Frisbee competitions, the soapbox derby and fireman demonstrations got under way.

As 2-year-olds lined up for their 10-yard dash across the softball field, Andy Peterson handed each a $1 coin.

"The winner gets three," she said.

Minutes before the final heats of the Soap Box Derby, Kent Hart was in the pits working on his daughter Kamper's derby car. The rear wheels were loose from earlier use.

Race organizer Bobby Jones said the key to good derby racing is polished axles, Boeing airplane grease and keeping the cart straight on the course.

In her first derby appearance, 5-year-old Kamper Hart had trouble controlling her freshly fixed cart, but hung on for a course finish time of just under 26 seconds.

Standing near the finish line, Addie Prussing, 5, taught the overall lesson of the day.

"It's not about winning," Prussing said. "It's about having fun."

• Greg Skinner can be reached at 523-2258 or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com

See more photos of the Fourth of July at spotted.juneauempire.com

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