Skagway’s July 3 Fireworks Tradition

Early evening of July 3, I overheard someone say, “They are setting off fireworks tonight, that is the stupidest thing I ever heard.”  For that person and others who may wonder, I would like to explain.

As I am sure you have noticed, Skagway is a small town. For many years there were no fireworks, period.

Then the Chamber of Commerce with funding from the city and many local donations was able to hire a pyrotechnician who was willing to come to Skagway for the paltry sum of $12,000-$15, 000 on July 3, as he had a larger job in Haines on the Fourth. There are very few pyrotechnicians in Alaska, by the way. And it has to be a licensed pyrotechnician who sets of large fireworks displays, there are required permits and licenses and in our case approval by the Coast Guard as it is done over ocean water.

This went on for a few years, then a local businessman decided to make it more fun.

We had dueling fireworks – one set off from the end of the White Pass dock and the other from a tug out on the water.

It was beautiful – spectacular – wonderful!!! I think this happened for three or four years.

Then the pyrotechnician retired and there was no one who would come to Skagway for that amount, even on the Third.

Thankfully the local businessman continued to do his show and each year it gets bigger and better.

Everyone should give a big thank-you to Jeff Hamilton and Hamilton Construction, without him there would be no fireworks in Skagway.

Sharon Bolton • Skagway