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Some spectators at the Juneau Fourth of July parade have their favorite floats.
Friday afternoon, as a smiling John Waters stood along the parade route, he said he liked the floats of the U.S. Navy, the Canadian Mounties, and the Tlingit dancers. But a cheerful Walters appeared most eager to see the Alaska Native Veterans float, the one judged most patriotic by the Juneau Parade Committee.
As it rode by, Walters stepped forward to hug his father, a veteran of the Korean War and a Purple Heart recipient, who walked beside the float. Then Walters kissed his mother, who was riding on the float.
Walters attended the parade with his longtime girlfriend and her children.
Fourth of July Slideshow
"The kids are loving it!" Walters said. "They are taking all the candy, having fun. It has been great."
Two matriarchs, Joyce Van Sickle and Becky Sedgwick, agreed.
"I have a whole family with us today - grandchildren and kids," said Van Sickle. Her daughter claimed a spot early in front of the Goldbelt Hotel for the family. "We love the fire engines with all the candy."
Sedgwick set up a motor home along the parade route at the Coast Guard subport, bringing eight grandchildren among the four generations present.
"The whole place was filled with kids grabbing at candy and having a great time," she said.
Fourth of July parade winners
Best of Parade: Chilly Willy's Car Wash.
Most Alaskan: 1) A-1 Auto Body, 2) Mount Juneau Tlingit Dancers.
Most Patriotic: 1) Southeast Alaska Native Veterans, 2) Sign Pro.
Best Commercial Entry: 1) Chilly Willy's Car Wash, 2) Juneau Public
Best Use of Theme: 1) Juneau Public Health Center, 2) Filipino Community.
Best of Animals: 1) Patriotic Pomeranians on Parade.
Best Customized Vehicle: 1) Boatmobile, 2) Shriners Mini Cars.
Best Marching Group: 1) USS McCluskey Color Guard, 2) Ati-Atihan.
Best Classic or Antique Car: 1) Don Abel Building Supply, 2) Campbells Model A.
Best Youth Entry: 1) The Franson Kids, Dan Elstad plus two children.
Best Pooper Scooper: Barbara Bartoo.
Douglas Fourth of July Children's Parade Winners
Bikes-boys: C.J. Umbs.
Bikes-girls: Tamara Campbell.
Three-wheeler: Toma Kimmlinger.
Dogs and owners: Solana Ashe with dog Poco, and Erika Halsed with dog Peanut.
Scooter: Miranda Glasheen.
In-line skates: Matthew Noreen and Aaron Widmyer.
Skateboard: Gary Speck.
Most patriotic-boys: Malik Jones.
Most patriotic-girls: Selena Faller.
Funniest costume: Shannon Smith.
Duo: Paige Poor and Katie Nussbaumer, and Jeffrey and Sherry Bowler
Group costume: Oscar and Sydney Jones, Travis and Gabrielle Duvernay, Braiden Helf, Michael and Anna Kahklen.
Best family: Stephanie Allison, Kerry, Jared and Ian Lear.
The USS McClusky, a 453-foot guided-missile frigate based in San Diego, was in Juneau for the holiday. It carries a crew of 17 officers and 198 enlisted personnel.
"Whenever we have the military ships in, we really do appreciate the presence," Sedgwick said. "They do have a port to come to and celebrate the Fourth of July where they feel at home. We always tell them they are appreciated, tell them, 'Hi,' welcome them to Juneau."
Three sailors who helped lead the parade said they felt welcome. Rob Tikas, who is from New York, said he noticed "a lot of friendly people."
William Best, from San Diego, and Clinton Peterson, from San Antonio, Texas, agreed. Tikas, who said he climbed Mount Roberts during his visit, added, "I've never seen this many trees."
Ed Hein marched in the parade with a group he created called "Supporters of the Constitution." Hein, an Army veteran, aimed to reiterate the guarantee that the Founding Fathers created in 1776.
"We cannot let fear destroy our freedoms here at home," Hein said. "I think there has been an erosion of our constitutional rights. What ... are we fighting for if we are going to give up our rights here at home?"
Fiona Stewart-Campbell also marched. She carried peace cranes for Juneau People for Peace and Justice.
"We were really excited to note the tremendous support and hope and joy that we felt as we marched along the parade route this year," she said. "Many people are hoping for a better world, and a world of peace."
"This is an amazing part of our town and this is an amazing day," said Dawn Hunt. "There is a lot of love in this place."
Hunt said she was glad Juneau has kept the parade alive.
Although the traditions continue, some things have changed. DeeDee Cook, who helped organize the Class of 1953 Juneau High and Douglas High joint reunion, could recall similarities and differences in the town and the parade from the mid-1950s.
"We never had the big ships coming in, and the dock was different," Cook said.
She also noted there was no Sandy Beach or Savikko Park then. But the weather hasn't changed. Also, Cook exclaimed, "The fire trucks are still there and they are still throwing out the candy just like we had we were growing up!"
The candy brought smiles to many children's faces as well as worries to at least one parent. Amanda Ohmer brought Alex, 4, and Nicholas, 18 months, along. But as Nicholas sucked on a lollipop, secure on his mother's back, he occasionally pulled it out of his mouth and waved it around, making Mom worry about sticky hair.
There were other perils from tossed candy. Chase Schneider's mother, Dareen, had done up his hair in little red, white and blue spikes using colors from her hair salon. When young Chase turned away from the parade for a moment, a thump was heard and he incredulously exclaimed, "It just hit me right in the head!"
Dareen, who also colored an American flag into the long hair of her daughter Sofia, is a longtime Juneauite.
"This is our 30th year at the parade," she said. "I haven't missed one."
Right before Chase was going to participate in the field sports for kids in Douglas, she was asked if the colored spikes could affect her son's speed.
"I think it will help him go faster," she said. "He has wings."
The activities in Douglas were packed with people enjoying themselves, with numerous children either in tow or tugging at their parent or caregiver.
Savikko Park was filled with participants and observers for the field sports, the Dog Agility Trials and the Dog Frisbee Contest. Sandy Beach was crowded with people making sandcastles under weather that remained almost entirely cooperative.
The few sprinkles near the end of the Sandcastle Challenge did not discourage Eve Lofthus, 16, and Laura Long, 15. The two missed the other festivities because they started at 10 a.m. and worked for five hours to complete a New York skyline ranging up to 3 feet high.
"We wanted to do something different," Lofthus said. "We wanted to do vertical instead of horizontal."
The two young ladies built models of the World Trade Center twin towers three times, but they were too tall and collapsed.
"We tried to make a memorial site instead," Lofthus said.