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Independence day celebration draws big crowds


Orin Pierson

The crowd looks up mesmerized by the finalé of this year’s impressive fireworks display.

A nearly week-long celebration for Independence Day brought a halt to Nordic Drive road construction and even a break in the clouds.

The festivities kicked off on Tuesday evening with a retirement party for Judy Forgey, including a pie eating contest, at the Community Gym. Forgey also served on Thursday as the parade Grand Marshal.

Wednesday’s activities began with the Scrap Fish Derby. Two categories, kids age seven and younger and kids 8 -to 12 competed using only bait and hand lines. The winners of the competition included Kieran Cabral and Brody Whitethorn for biggest fish.

The Blindfold Row Boat Race followed in the Middle Harbor with winners Jordan and Ryan McFarland. Also in the Middle Harbor, Will and Jessica Hill came in first in the Tote Race for the two-person category. The Hass family took first in the four-person race.

The Herring Toss, also in the Middle Harbor, welcomed girls 12 and under winner Jaden Perry, and boys 12 and under winner Carl Hisaw. Eileen Robertson won for the 13 and older women’s category and Don Newman won for the men 13 and older.

The storm clouds moved in and rain soaked much of the Wednesday evening activities, but those who showed up for the Mattingly Electric Rib Cook Off, in the Kito’s Kave parking lot were not disappointed. Kyle Roundtree served up the Blue Ribbon-winning ribs, with Sheryl McDonald winning for Tender Rack and Ragnarok Rollers capturing the award for Most Unique. The Ragnarok Rollers also hosted a rib cook out in the beer garden behind Kito’s.

Dark clouds created an ominous cover on Thursday morning for the start of the Fourth of July Parade, but that didn’t intimidate participants or spectators.

The parade kicked off with a police patrol unit, color guard and a procession of fire trucks, including Grand Marshal Judy Forgey riding in the back of an antique fire truck.

Many parade participants made their way down Nordic Drive twice before the winners were announced. In the Kids Decorated Bikes category, first place went to Cheyenne Steele, second place to Abigail Anderson and third place Johnny Richmond.

In the Kids Individuals, first place went to Sailor Moon.

In the Organization category, first place went to Petersburg Volunteer Fire/EMS with a Stayin’ Alive CPR demonstration.

Second went to Ragnarok Rollers. “We were shocked to win second place for an organization in the parade. We were thrilled to win a ‘most unique’ prize and trophy for our entry into the ribs contest. The team pulled together after a 3 day long boot camp just days before the 4th of July festivities and I think it went really, really, really... well,” said Ragnarok Rollers President Lisa Nilsen.

The Forest Service, with Smokey the Bear, captured third.

In the Business category, first place went to Alaska Airlines with an inflatable airplane and a decorated luggage carrier. Flying Dog Studio captured second place and third place went to Alpine Waters.

Neighborhood category first place went to Red, White and Blue Group and Ross Nannuack III, who literally marched to his own drum beat, took second.

The Petersburg Lutheran Church took the top prize in the religious category as well as first place overall. Pastor Mike Schwarte later remarked that he wished other churches had given them some competition.

The Thursday afternoon events brought sunnier weather and more contest winners.

A large crowd gathered in the Middle Harbor for the Log Rolling competition. In the women’s category Ginny Ware took the top spot, and Jeff Erickson won for the men, as well as best overall.

Mandy Kivisto / Altered Perceptions Studio

The day of the Fourth kicked off with the The Freedom Run, A Victor Guthrie Sr. Memorial Run. The event was a ‘color splash’ with runners dressed in white then splashed with festive colored powders. Those who participated in the event could be easily spotted in the crowds throughout the days events.

The Chamber of Commerce raffle ticket winners were: third place, a cash prize of $500, Al Dwyer; second place, a cash prize of $1,000, Floyd Strand; and first place, a cash prize of $1,500 and two round-trip anywhere tickets on Alaska Airlines, Larry Martin.

The Rotary Duck Race winners were: third place, a cash prize of $200, Carole Spragg; second place, a cash prize of $300, Roy Otness; first place, a cash prize of $1000, Heidi Adams.

The rain held off for the fireworks show on Thursday night at the Mort Fryer Memorial Ballpark. Although there was an impressive fireworks show, it wasn't without a slight snafu. According to Dave Berg, when the volunteers were setting up for the fireworks display at the ball field some of the fireworks accidentally caught fire as one of the volunteers carrying a lit flare got too close to a box containing 3-inch shells. The drippings from a flare set off the box, Berg said. No one was injured, but there was some damage to a van owned by Hammer and Wikan. Volunteer firefighters responded and helped extinguish items from the van that had caught fire, Berg said. 


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