Monday, April 7, 2008

Joy of Spring Festival (Piuraagiaqta)

This weekend in Barrow (April 4th - 7th) the community ushered in the Spring season with the annual Piuraagiaqta celebration. Activities ranged from Maklak racing to a chili cook-off. On Saturday we had the opportunity to participate in the parade as representatives of BASC, also known as the "Barrow Arctic Surf Club." We revived a float from last year's 4th of July parade and retrofitted it for the bed of a Ford F250. The pieces of the float were found under 2 feet of snow by the warehouse and had to be painstakingly excavated by hand (see photo below).

Assembly took place in 3 hours the night before the parade, requiring the use of any scrap lumber we could get our hands on and the tools we could find at 11pm. The assembled float was kept in a secure location until morning so as not to ruin the surprise. The morning of the parade we gingerly drove the giant wind sail of a float the 3 miles to City Hall where we were to assemble for the start of the parade.

The parade traveled from City Hall down the block to Arctic Pizza. We went past the Wells Fargo Bank, heading along the coast towards the post office, ending at the Inupiat Heritage Center. Overall the parade lasted about 45 minutes and we managed to throw six 5 gallon buckets of candy, about 250 packs of Rice Crispy treats and 250 packs of cookies to the excited kids (and adults) lining the parade route. All along the way, we blasted Beach Boys music (appropriate for our "surfing" themed float). None of us want to hear the Beach Boys for a while now.

We also were able to make a new friend along the way. Deanna is a postdoc working at the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) and is working at BASC for only a week or two. She's here by herself and so we "adopted" her and had a great time with her during the parade. (She has one heck of an arm for throwing candy!). She is in the white parka in the photo below.

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