By DAN FOX
Every year the Skagway Chamber of Commerce selects a grand marshal for the municipality’s Fourth of July festivities, which will have a theme playing off “The Wizard of Oz” this year. This upcoming holiday, Skagway is getting two marshals for the price of one.
Karla and Duff Ray – a pair of high-school sweethearts from Idaho – came to Skagway in 1979 with a grand total of six dollars between them. Many hours of hard work have seen the pair start several businesses around town, and start a family in Skagway as well.
The Skagway News sat down with Karla and Duff and asked them about their favorite parts of the upcoming holiday.
SN: Do you have a favorite Fourth of July memory in Skagway?
A: “For us, the Fourth of July memories that I think serve as the best…there’s one where we all got off together because it was a slow ship day, and we got to all walk around together, that was such a rare thing with our grandkids.” – Karla
“We always have a float in the parade, all our kids work on those, our children did, now our grandchildren do, they look forward to doing the float every year.” – Duff
SN: What sort of effort do you put into your Fourth of July floats?
A: “We always want to try to be funny, that’s our number one thing. We don’t want to be too serious, or take ourselves too serious, so we kind of like to have fun.” – Duff
“Probably our favorite one, Duff comes up with the ideas, was the ‘Tourist Trap.’ We made a big net, and we made a giant crab pot, and we had tourists trapped in there with their matching coats. We just thought we were hilarious. Of course, we think we’re hilarious, but all the people with their matching coats are giving us the stink eye.” – Karla
SN: Was there any year where, during the Fourth or your float construction, there was a mishap?
A: “Weather is always unpredictable. We’ve had pouring rains, winds that blew the decorations off.” – Duff
“One year we had the not-so-brilliant idea, I don’t remember the theme, but we got this idea that we were going to serve ice cream cones off of the float. It just was pouring rain, and it was sideways, and it was just dripping all over the workers and we were trying to do these cones, that was a horrible one.” – Karla
SN: Every year there are fireworks, what is it like watching them with your kids and your grandkids?
A: “We really enjoyed that when they started doing that here, because as young kids growing up, we used to go and watch the fireworks – we lived in Idaho, in a little town right close to Lava Hot Springs – and we’d just go and watch the fireworks every year. And so, when they started doing that [in Skagway], we really liked that. So we gather our kids around, we always have a party up at our house on our deck and we can watch the fireworks over there, and it’s kind of really added to the Fourth of July. – Duff
SN: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: “Another big event we loved was when we set the Guinness Book of World Records for the Egg Toss. That was a lot of fun.” – Duff
[Editor’s note: Skagway set the World Record in 2008 with 1,162 participants in the egg toss.]
“Really, the best thing about the Fourth is the community. We’ve been here so long, that we really, really love this community. I mean, it’s our childrens’ home and now we’ve been here long enough it is definitely our home. But when you see it through the eyes of kids, and we are again through our grandkids, I think that’s the most joyful kind of thing.” – Karla
See the full schedule of events for the Fourth of July on Page 20.