It’s mid-October. Around here, that can only mean one thing. Oh yes, the weather is more blustery and the termination dust is creeping down the mountains and the streets are noticeably more navigable than they were just a few weeks ago in the throes of tourist season. However, recurring natural phenomena pale in comparison to the Alaska Day festivities that are unfolding in Sitka this week. Men in kilts. That should be enough. But it gets better. They will be playing bagpipes and drums and marching from bar to bar to bar astonishing us with their muscular legs, drinking skills, and oh yeah, musical abilities.
Alaska Day is on October 18, commemorating the anniversary of the transfer of the Alaskan Territory from Russia to the U.S. in 1867. Although it is a legal State holiday, Sitka is the only community where it is truly celebrated. The festivities, lasting approximately 10 days, is reminiscent of the Big Easy during Mardi Gras, sans the bare-breasted babes and plastic beads. (Well, that’s not entirely true: things can get pretty naked and sparkly around here in the Land of the Midnight Sun…) Nonetheless, iniquitous late night happenings dovetail seamlessly with a bevy of family-friendly events that include a croquet tournament, variety shows, performances by Highland Dancers and the Pipe Band (featuring men in kilts), 9th Army Band musical entertainment, food booths, a parade (featuring men in kilts), a reenactment of the 1867 transfer ceremony, races, USCG air-sea demonstrations, and historical tours.
Bright red lipstick kisses adorn the faces of local citizens, strategically placed by sexy clown babes dressed in garish Keystone Cop regalia. For $2, you can be spared the facial tattoo and purchase a commemorative button that helps pay for some of the festival events (like bringing the men in kilts to town). Anyone caught without a button on the 18th risks a humiliating incarceration in the makeshift clink. Good times… good times. Despite the continuous rain, there is a general air of levity about town, enhanced by all the silly merriment and seasonal goodwill. Did I mention the men in kilts?
Even though demographics of recent years indicate that the ratio of men to women in Sitka has greatly leveled to an even playing field, there is still the sheer pleasure of seeing new faces (read kilts) when the Seattle Firefighters Pipe Band members arrive. On behalf of Sitka’s female population, the WSW is very grateful for the good and charitable work that these brave pipers provide when they grace our community every October with good cheer and snappy music. And kilts.
*Big thank you to Cyndi C/That’s Haute© for the photos!