A day at the beach is a perfect getaway. Photo by Gwyn Thompson.
Independence Day, the Independent Way
The pleasures of small town life are seldom more evident than during the 4th of July celebration in the nation's farthest north capital city. From the stroke of midnight on July 3rd, when fireworks light up the sky and rocket blasts reverberate from the mountain tops, Juneau and neighboring Douglas are alive with the sights, sounds, and excitement of a home grown, traditional expression of the American spirit.

On the 4th, residents who aren't participating in the parade, cheer on their friends and neighbors who are riding aboard colorful floats, on horseback, in marching bands, clowning around in creative costumes, or carrying banners supporting their favorite political candidate or cause. Wide-eyed children scramble for the endless stream of candy emanating from gleaming fire engines whose bells and sirens herald their progress through the town.

Over the bridge in Douglas, Sandy Beach becomes an artist's canvas as castles, dragons, and other magical creations emerge from the sand. At nearby Savikko Park, built on the tailings from the historic Treadwell Mine complex, the afternoon is filled with competitive events...from canine agility trials to children's field events where every participant is a winner.

It's all topped off with the annual baseball showdown between the Juneau and Douglas Volunteer Fire Departments. And if your favorite team doesn't win...there's always next year! Through it all, the smell of hot dogs, barbeque, and other summertime treats fills the air.

In a state and a city that take pride in an independent lifestyle, this holiday among all others resonates with Alaskans who cherish life on America's Last Frontier.