Jon Hirsch, foreground, races barefoot to the finish line in the adult foot races at Tlingit Park last year during the Independence Day celebrations. Tom Morphet photo.

Grand marshal honor goes to Lucy Harrell

The Haines Fourth of July organizing committee has planned a 15-hour day that starts with food, mixes in several races and sporting events, food, the traditional Main Street parade, even more food, and then ends with music.

The holiday will start with a 7 a.m. flag raising by the American Legion at the Fort Seward parade grounds, with the closing ceremony canon firing and flag lowering at 9 p.m. at the parade grounds.

For music fans who aren’t ready to head home after the ceremony, the Haines Fourth of July Music Fest will continue through to 10 p.m. at Fort Seward. Local bands Extended Play will perform 6 to 8 p.m. and Dyna Flow from 8 to 10 p.m.

This year’s parade grand marshal is Lucy Harrell, well known for her generous philanthropy to a wide range of organizations in the community.

Harrell will turn 94 on Aug. 1. Heather Lende once asked Harrell why she gives away money. “Because it’s fun,” the Haines resident of 30-plus years answered.

“Money is for spending. It’s just another tool,” she said in a 2015 Chilkat Valley News interview.

The list of recipients of her donations is long and varied and includes the Soboleff-McRae Veterans Village, Haines Sheldon Museum, Friends of the Haines Borough Public Library, public radio station KHNS, Haines Assisted Living, Haines Arts Council, the Dolphins Swim Team, Haines Animal Rescue Kennel, Haines Friends of Recycling, Becky’s Place, Hospice of Haines, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Salvation Army.

“What I love about Lucy is she is the most unlikely community hero,” Lende said. “She typically wore her overalls and pork pie hat and lived very frugally.” Her wardrobe did not change, “even to the most fancy affair.”

As grand marshal, Harrell will ride in the parade that starts at 11 a.m. and will run along Main Street from Sixth to First Avenues, then turn right at First to Willard, heading back to Third Avenue and then on Main Street for the return to Sixth.

Parade line-up will start at 10 a.m. at the Thor’s Fitness parking lot.

This year’s parade theme is “Heroes,” which matches the theme of a writing contest sponsored by the Haines Chamber of Commerce. Open to all, the contest asks people “to share your story about your personal hero.” Entries are limited to 500 words and due at the chamber office by 5 p.m. Friday.

After the 7 a.m. flag raising, the events will start with the annual Mount Ripinsky Run. Check in at the American Legion between 7 and 7:45 a.m. for the 5-kilometer race.

For those who would rather eat first thing in the morning, the American Legion Auxiliary will serve breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. at the Legion Hall.

The Haines Woman’s Club will serve pies and root beer floats from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tlingit Park, with the Haines Friends of the Library serving up brats and burgers, baked goods and books from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the park.

Mud volleyball returns this year, with the competition to start at noon on First Avenue near the park.

Foot races and money toss are set for 1 p.m., with spike driving for adults and nail-pounding for kids 1 to 3 p.m.

The Haines Volunteer Fire Department will show its skills with a fire hose battle at 2 p.m. at First Avenue South near the Presbyterian Church.

There will be more food options with a watermelon feed at 2 p.m. at the park and the pie eating contest at 3 p.m.

A tug of war between the community and the crew of the cruise ship Westerdam is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The Haines Sportsman’s Association’s trap shoot at the Mud Bay shooting range is set for 4 p.m.

Mud volleyball returns for the 4th

After a one-year break in the sloppy action, mud volleyball is back for the Fourth.

No fancy stuff, no set-ups or bumps and spikes – players just can’t move that quickly in the mud. “You just really want to hit that ball back over the net,” said event organizer Lori Carter, who was working Saturday to start preparing the court.

Mud volleyball will start at noon July 4 at the volunteer-created mud pit on First Avenue, about halfway between Main Street and Tlingit Park. Sign-up is at 11:30 a.m.

Carter is back, helping to put together the competition, after a family emergency kept her away last year. Tomi Scovill ran it for about 30 years before that. “When I moved to Haines and saw it was part of the Fourth, it sounded like so much fun,” Carter said.

Fun, but hard work to get ready. Carter and others started last weekend, clearing the overgrown weeds to prepare for tilling the ground to dig up the dirt. On July 3, the fire department will flood the small field, and the following morning volunteers will pour dishwashing detergent into the mud.

It’s not about keeping the dirt clean. “Tomi told me that was the trick she learned to make the mud stickier,” Carter said. Volunteers and players will mix up the detergent with the mud to make the perfect blend, sort of like stomping grapes.

Don’t expect the detergent to keep your clothes clean. Volunteer Natalie Helms suggested players bring an old towel and clean T-shirt to wear after their games. Players are not allowed to use public restrooms to wash off, but the event crew will have a sprinkler or water hose available on site.

Volleyball teams will play to 15 points, with eight members to a team – six on the court at a time. The court is small – about 50 feet long – but the mud holds down player movement, so it takes all six to cover the action, Carter said. It’s a single-elimination tournament.

Players will need to sign liability waivers to set foot in the mud. And there will be bucket of water at each serving point so that the players can keep the ball clean.

Just one small problem in the week’s preparations: The organizers cannot find the volleyball net and poles from their last use in 2016. Anyone who knows the whereabouts of a mud-splattered volleyball net should call Carter at 620-717-3422.

Community invited to pull against cruise ship crew in 4th tug of war

It will be for pride, not prizes, when the community of Haines and the crew of Holland America’s 936-foot-long Westerdam compete in a tug of war on the Fourth of July.

It’s for bragging rights, said Carolann Wooton, tourism director at the Haines Borough, who is helping to pull together the new event for the holiday celebration. The Westerdam will be at the dock for most of the day.

Westerdam crew members were interested in a July 4 tug of war. The cruise ship calls on Haines every other Wednesday, landing on the holiday this year. “We thought it’d be fun,” Wooton said. The pull is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Tlingit Park.

The Westerdam, which can accommodate about 2,000 passengers, has a lot of potential tuggers to choose from. It carries a crew of more than 800, according to the company’s website.

As for the community team, anyone can show up and pull for Haines. No registration required; no entry fee. “We need some good pullers,” Wooton said. “We’d be excited if we could field a team of eight.” The tug of war was an Olympic sport 100 years ago, with eight-member teams.

The Haines Fire Department will provide an official tug-of-war rope.

If too many people show up to fit on one pull, the competition can expand to multiple pulls to accommodate everyone.

Chamber asks writers to share their stories about personal heroes

The Fourth of July is about celebrating the nation’s birth, and the Haines Chamber of Commerce would like to add a celebration of heroes to the day.

The chamber this year is asking people “to share your story about your personal hero.” Keep it to less than 500 words, turn it in by 5 p.m. Friday, and wait for the judges to select the winners.

The best stories will be announced during the parade and at the Haines Fourth of July Music Fest, said Tracey Harmon, the chamber’s executive director.

“Tell us … how you have been inspired, moved or helped by a friend, family member, or any other person in your life,” the rules say. The chamber’s Fourth of July organizing committee came up with the idea back in April, Harmon said.

Veterans, police and other public service providers certainly come to mind, but the stories are not limited. “It could be your mother,” Harmon said.

Cash prizes totaling $175 will be awarded.

There are no age categories, but that could change depending on the number of entries, Harmon explained.

Entries can be delivered to the chamber office at 219 Main St., or brought to Babbling Book & the Dragon’s Nook by 5 p.m. Friday.

If it floats, you can race it

Though there are no official rules or official organizers, the major unwritten directive for the Fourth of July raft race down the Chilkoot River is that your “raft” must be homemade.

“We’ve seen people put a whole bunch of milk jugs together,” said racer Kevin Shove, adding that the milk-jug raft “only got halfway.”

Rafters need to be at the Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site boat launch by 3 p.m. Wednesday for the short run of less than half a mile down the river to the finish line at the Lutak Spur Road bridge.

Rafters can race solo or with a team. But if a team starts the race, the entire team must finish the run, Shove said. No losing team members in the water, no dropping off team members even if parts of the raft fall off.

“Most people use pieces of Styrofoam,” he said, adding that one year a contestant tried rafting in a barrel.

Pretty much the only obstacle in the 20- or 25-minute run is the fish weir spanning the river. “You have to go around the weir,” Shove said. That means pulling out of the water and putting back in past the weir.

One other request of rafters: Wear a helmet and personal flotation device.

It’s OK at this event to eat fast

The Fourth of July pie-eating contest is all about how fast contestants can swallow. Chewing is optional. Cleanliness and style don’t count.

The event is set for 3 p.m. at Tlingit Park, with advance sign-up required between 1 and 2:30 p.m.

The table will be set with cream pies for the three age categories.

One important caveat, said Carolann Wooton, the Haines Borough tourism director. “Everybody is responsible for their own illness.”

Adults will be given an entire pie and judged on how quickly they can clean the plate.

Teenagers 11 through 16 will get half a pie, with a quarter pie for children ages 6 through 10. Kids 5 and younger will get a slice.

Spike-driving in the afternoon

It’s OK to hit something at this event. Actually, that’s the point.

The Hammer Museum will hold its annual spike-driving and nail-pounding competition at Tlingit Park the afternoon of the Fourth.

The women’s division for spike driving will start at 1:30 p.m., followed immediately by the men’s competition – but organizers are asking everyone to show up at 1:30 p.m.

Competitors will drive a railroad spike into a log.

Nail-driving for younger competitors – using wood, not a log – will run from 1 to 3 p.m. at the park. “Pounders can stop by anytime during the event to participate,” museum staff said.

Safe area designated for fireworks

Jason Verhamme drives metal into a log at last year’s festivities.

Although there isn’t an official fireworks display planned for July 4, if you believe the holiday is not complete without fireworks the Haines Borough police and fire departments have designated a safe area to light them up along the Portage Cove waterfront. Consumer-grade fireworks will be allowed in the area from 6 p.m. to midnight July 4, similar to the rules the past couple of years.

The police and fire departments have designated the “beach areas of Picture Point and Port Chilkoot Dock,” excluding “harbor areas from Oceanside RV Park to the Front Street Pavilion and within 100 feet of private residences.”

Stay in the area, stay in the designated hours, and stay aware of everyone’s safety.