Kodiak’s annual Crab Festival turned 65 this year. The event kicks off just before Memorial Day Weekend with a ceremonial pardoning of the crab. A traditional Russian Orthodox Blessing of the Fleet closes out the event. And in between, there’s four days of food trucks, survival suit races and one big Grand Parade. And this year’s parade was a soaker, but it didn’t stop spectators from coming out to line the parade route as a stream of floats, fire trucks and marchers made their way down a half-mile stretch of Mill Bay Road – right outside of downtown.
Among those in attendance was Delores Gregory and her 13-month-old son Lukas. It was his first time at the festival.
“We have a chance to test out his rain suit so it’s perfect timing,” Gregory said.
Rep. Mary Peltola marched through the rain with supporters in the parade. So did little league teams, members of the Coast Guard, firefighters and Alaska State Troopers, and members of the local teachers union, which handed out books to kids along the parade route. Members of Kodiak Island Racing Association had a small fleet of muscle cars, dirt bikes and four-wheelers.
The most colorful participant was Kodiak Pride’s balloon-covered float, which blasted Beyoncé songs as it drove by. Anthony Ponte designed the local LGBTQ advocacy group’s float. He said they wanted to honor the Crab Fest tradition of bringing people together.
“Our Native land and native berries and flowers, so we did an assortment and arrangement of rainbow flowers and berries,” Ponte said
It’s more than a spectator sport for people watching the parade – kids also get to stuff their pockets with candy and bead necklaces flung from the floats as they go by.
Peggy Rauwolf was collecting candy with her family and cheering on the participants this year. But she’s not used to being a spectator – she organized the event for 25 years.
“You know what? It’s the highlight of our community,” she said. “It’s just, the community gets together and they come out for this every year. How can I sum it up? It’s fun. And it puts smiles on people’s faces.”
She said that’s a tradition that doesn’t change – rain or shine.
KMXT’s Brian Venua contributed to this reporting.