Juneau will celebrate Alaska Day this year on Oct. 18. The celebration will be in the form of a ball and will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. at Centennial Hall. The emcee will be no other than the illustrious Mike Race. Festivities will include a welcome dance from our First Alaskans, represented by the Yees Ku Oo Dancers, our National Anthem and the Alaska Flag Song led by the Alaskan Youth Choir, followed by a short tribute to the actual transfer of 1867. The evening will be filled with ballroom dance music and jazz tunes presented by Alaska's Kit and the Kaboodles.
There is a flurry of activity as many Juneauites scurry around town assembling their period costumes. The time frame is best explained as the Civil War era, which included exciting ball gowns and lovely dresses. Men, of course, were most outstanding in their Union or Reb uniforms and dashing suits such as Clark Gable wore in "Gone with the Wind." Although period costumes are encouraged, they are not required to come and enjoy the evening.
Wikipedia explains Alaska Day as "a legal holiday in the state of Alaska, observed on Oct. 18. It is the anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States, which took place at a flag-raising ceremony at Fort Sitka on Friday, Oct. 18,1867.
"Alaska Day is legally observed statewide, and is a paid holiday for State of Alaska employees. The official celebration is held in Sitka, where schools release students early, many businesses close for the day and events such as a parade and reenactment of the flag raising are held ...
"Although the territory was sold to the U.S. in March, it was not until the 18th of October that year that the Commissioners arrived in Sitka and the formal transfer was arranged. The original ceremony included 250 uniformed U.S. soldiers, who marched to the Governor's house in Sitka at "Castle Hill", where the transfer was made. It was here that the Russian troops lowered the Russian flag and the U.S. flag was raised."
This First Annual Commemorative Alaska Day Ball for Juneau is being sponsored by the Men's and Women's Igloos #6, Pioneers of Alaska. Pioneers of Alaska is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historical and generational data and relics. The Pioneers are hoping that this celebration will become a tradition in Juneau and encourage other groups and individuals around town to become interested in future Alaska Day celebrations. Next year, the Pioneers would like to see other forms of celebration in addition to the ball.
Tickets are available for $15 in advance and $20 at the door to encourage families to attend this historical commemoration. There will be hors d'oeuvres served and a no-host bar.
Hope to see you at the first Commemorative Alaska Day Ball. For more information, please call 789-7315.