The Haines Fourth of July celebration is one community event still on the calendar for this year. On Thursday, May 28, the Haines Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event annually, announced that it’s moving forward with plans for a pandemic-appropriate parade and celebration activities.

“It’s in the very initial planning stage right now,” chamber executive director Tracey Harmon said. “Normally we would have started planning two months ago, but two months ago, that wasn’t even an option.”

Planning an event right now is difficult given the uncertainty and constantly changing requirements, Harmon said. It was only two weeks ago, with businesses in the state opening up, that the chamber’s board approved moving forward with Fourth of July plans.

The celebration traditionally draws people to town, Haines tourism director and member of the Fourth of July planning committee Steven Auch said. Most visitors are from nearby communities in Southeast and the Yukon.

This year, with travel restrictions and the Canadian border closure, there will likely be fewer visitors.

“We are aiming to make it more of a community-based event,” Auch said.

This year’s theme is “Uncle Sam I Am,” according to a chamber press release.

“We wanted to do something that incorporates kids,” Harmon said. “They’ve really gotten the short end of the stick with school closures and not seeing friends.”

Harmon said she keeps a rolling list of ideas for Fourth of July themes. The Fourth of July planning committee selected the Dr. Seuss theme because of the wealth of opportunities for creativity and whimsy it offers.

“We wanted a theme that takes us away from the hardship,” Harmon said.

This year’s parade participants can draw inspiration from characters like the Cat in the Hat and the Lorax when they compete for cash prizes in four categories: “float,” “musical/dance number,” “bike” and “dog.”

“This year’s grand marshal will be the community’s first responders as a way to acknowledge the services they have done supporting the community during the pandemic,” Harmon said.

After the parade, residents will be able to participate in activities hosted by local clubs and organizations. Past years have featured activities at Tlingit Park including a pie-eating contest, coin toss, bake sale and mud volleyball.

Harmon said the chamber is still finalizing a location, list of activities and judges for the parade. The chamber is also trying to organize performances from local musicians. This year’s fireworks event has been cancelled due to potential wildfire risk.

The board discussed each component of the celebration to determine whether it could be held in a pandemic-appropriate manner and is working to create a safety plan in keeping with state guidance.

“The parade is the easiest to do,” Harmon said. She used the recent high school graduation parade as an example. A parade could involve marking social-distancing lines down Main Street to manage observers and encouraging “cute Fourth of July-themed face masks,” she said.

Those interested in hosting an activity or participating as a musical act should contact the chamber at 766-2202 or email [email protected].