Canoes landed on a crowded beach in Juneau Wednesday to kick off the Southeast Alaska Native festival known as Celebration 2014. Alicia Chilton and Ken Hoyt were two paddlers who have roots in Wrangell.
Chilton was born and raised in Wrangell and is a leader of the One People Canoe Society. She lives in Juneau now, but she said she wanted to represent Wrangell on the journey to Celebration.
“Wrangell is my home town,” Chilton said. “I plan to be moving back there this fall. And I just wanted to be part of the community again.”
The whole journey was a fun experience for Chilton, even when she had to help drag her canoe across mud flats during low tide. But she said the best part was seeing teamwork develop among the paddlers.
“I almost cried when we all rafted up here outside of Sandy Beach before we came it was just amazing. And the crowd that welcomed us was wonderful,” Chilton said.
Hundreds of people waited to welcome the paddlers to shore with songs and cheers. After asking for permission to land, the canoers joined other participants for an evening of dance performances.