Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fourth of July- Seward Style

As I prepped for Brad’s homecoming, I stopped at my new favorite salon for a haircut. While there, a local came in and starting lamenting about the weekend’s traffic. Her forecast was that this year was going to be another big year for the Seward 4th of July Celebration.

Complete with USCG Helicopter flyover, a parade opens our town’s festival. The day’s events center around the multiple races up and down Mt. Marathon. Crazy people, er, I mean, runners, enter their name for the honor (desperately trying to hold back here) of putting their body through ultimate terror as they launch up the mountain and then, literally, SLIDE back down on the shale that makes up the mountain’s face. Younger generations are given a showcase in the morning, followed by the women; and then the men in the afternoon.

Well, back to the lady at the salon. When I asked her how many people she expected to be in town, without batting an eyelash, she said, “Oh, we swell to about 30,000 for the 4th.” We’re a town of 2500. Our teeny tiny footprint couldn’t even hold 20,000- much less 30,000. I smiled inwardly and estimated that 10,000 was a high year for Sewardites to endure Marathoners.

Brad and I headed into town just before the men’s race. We found a parking spot easily enough and then made our way through the vendors, passed the USAF band from Elmendorf, and the flag-waving fire department. As colorful dots of runners’ jerseys emerged from the treeline on Mt. Marathon, we watched in awe at how quickly the men raced up the face. Expecting the streets to be packed, we found ourselves comfortable in the crowd capacity- both determining that it was not, as so accurately forecasted, 30,000; and that in comparison to 4th of July on the National Mall- this was nothin’. We liked the Classic Americana around us.

We found friends at the shoot, where the runners re-entered pavement and made their way to the finish line. Some of the runners’ backsides made us pause as we sipped coffee. One man ran by with pieces of slate stuck in his back, blood oozing down. I can only imagine what his shower felt like thereafter. And then came the parade of what people thought was best to wear to either comfortably brace the blow of sliding down slate. We saw raingear, nylon pants, rubber knee pads, and items that may have been tested via a Columbia gear head (yes, some were that bizarre).

After the races, our house hosted some locals and some friends from Anchorage. Cornhole games ensued in the rain; and we made delicious smores at the bonfire near the creek. Our last guest departed at 0130 – bound to camp riverside in hopes of fishing the next day.

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