By Gretchen Wehmhoff
Above the Skaguay News Depot on Broadway is the Skagway News office. During the summer months, without the storm windows, the window sashes open tall enough for me to lean out to take in a view that stretches from the tall ships at the harbor all the way to the mountains in the north.
There is something fitting about the office being upstairs in downtown. When I am there I feel like I’m almost in the middle of the action, which was certainly the case this Independence Day.
Normally, I would walk around town with my camera and capture the day, but recent medical issues have me monitoring my activity.
We were awakened by Jeff Brady’s voice starting the Skagway 5K Run-Around. After a cup of coffee, I pulled a chair up to the front window as the Kiddie Parade began. Someone said “go” and a group of 4-year-olds tore down the block leading the short parade. The rest of the parade took a slower pace with wagons pulling teddy bears, scooters decked out in red, white and blue ribbons and costumes from fairies to bumble bees. One child sat in a wagon full of picture books reading “one more page” as her father towed her down the street.
Thirty minutes later the main parade would start. I leaned out for a picture towards the port. Two ships towered above the town and a White Pass & Yukon Route train positioned itself across the street. The train whistle blew, the engine backed up and floats, vehicles and marchers crossed the tracks towards the crowd.
Parade participants tossed candy to the children. The street, lined with locals, Yukoners and people from around the world came alive with energy. The police, border patrol, park service and fire department had their rigs cleaned up. A large group of marchers wore black and carried signs in protest of the recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. That group seemed to get the most applause and women along the parade path stood up to clap.
After the parade, chalk drawing started right below my window. More cute kids.
The Red Onion’s Pizza Toss began just to the left of me with Deb Potter handling the competition and Reba Hylton dishing extra sauce on the pizzas. The crowd loved it – cheering and clapping when the dough was caught and letting out loud sighs if one hit the ground.
The egg toss, an event that has earned Skagway an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, was next.
People stretched down Broadway for blocks. Parents tossing with their kids, kids tossing with kids, strangers tossing with strangers. The line had to be one of the most international, yet casual games I’ve seen. Taking photos from the street last year was fun, but this view gave me a feel of the crowd. As eggs dropped and the line diminished, the crowd gathered around the last dozen or so teams. A few were experienced egg tossers who sent the eggs flying high and far, again, with the crowd breathing cheers of relief and sighs of loss over broken eggs.
Some of the best views from the window are when things are finished. I think my favorite is watching dogs pull at their leashes to lick up the egg from the street and the crows fighting over pizza crust.
In a way, the animals were the first line of quiet Skagway street cleaners.
The next morning the city’s street cleaning machine finished off the job and the crows cawed their displeasure. Even now, there’s a trace of chalk and a bit of egg to remind me of the energy outside the window on the street where Skagway plays.