Coming into McCarthy, all we could think about were the epic mountains and glaciers in front of us, so we didn’t give much thought to where we were going to spend our 4th of July. After coming back from our trek (on the 3rd of July) we were surprised at the hoards of people that had pilled into the tiny 28-person town for the 4th of July celebrations. Not feeling too motivated to spend the day driving after our trek as well as being told by many Alaskans that McCarthy was the place to be, we decided to stick around and experience American 4th of July first hand.
After a revitalizing 10-hour sleep, we headed down to the town square past a large group of people who looked like they had passed beer o-clock somewhere around 8am. Walking onto the main (and only) street in McCarthy, a man in a ranger hat, apron and boots walked up to me. He blew his whistler loudly and promptly gave me a ticket. Slightly confused about what was going on I opened it up and read, “Violation: Looking at a Rangers Butt!!!”. I looked up, about to protest the ticket and stared straight at the white bare ass of the guy who had just given me the ticket. Already a fantastic start to the day!
The parade consisted of a combination of local businesses, town residents and a large energetic crowd of seasonal guides. The locals came through with a small eclectic marching band, and a slightly older but very shiny looking fire truck.
After this came some local industry, The Baked Potato (a local restaurant) and the Blackburn logging company.
Last but certainly the most entertaining came the local guiding outfits. First came the Wrangell Mountain Center dressed as “Rhubarbarians” a costume of underwear, rhubarb and a welding mask. After them came the Wrangell Mountain Air guides wearing silver alien suits.
By far the largest group was the one from the St Elias Guides. It looked like they had all taken a swim through Mr. Dressups closet and come up with a mismatch of fantastically coloured items. They were led by Superwoman and a man in a purple spandex onesie. Behind the leaders was a long white tail of white sheet to dress the car up as the Root Glacier. To keep with that theme they also had a man holding onto the side of the “Root Glacier” with ice axes. But what really put them over the top was the dance party that they kept going the duration of the parade. The guides of the Wrangell have been part of the McCarthy 4th of July parade for the last 20 years and show no signs of giving up on that tradition.
After the parade the day continued much like you would expect a 4th of July to go with tradition games such as egg toss and tug-of-war.
After vodka shots with some Russian/Croatian guys that were watching the parade with pistols on their hips we headed out to our last big stop in the state, Homer Alaska!