Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July weekend

Grace and greetings.

Happy fourth of July, the anniversary where the colonies declared their independence from the British empire. It is usually accompanied with parades and fireworks. Things here are a little different.

This is part of the summer celebration, it is a four day event. They start with games on the third: foot races and egg balance race according to age groups.

Then they finish each of the nights with Anauragauraq (Eskimo Baseball). I think it is more like cricket than baseball as we know it in the United States. They divide up into two teams, and have two bases, or lines. Each person gets the opportunity to hit the ball, then the team that is at bat, can choose to run to the other base or not, everybody, nobody, anybody. The idea of course is to go from one base to the other and back home to score a run. There is a twist here though, as you run from base to base, you can be tagged out or thrown out with the other team throwing the ball at any running team member; but if an out is made, everybody has to switch sides quickly, because the ball is still live, and the team that was just thrown out, can pick the ball up and throw out somebody on the other team before they get to one of the bases safely. It is a game of all ages and abilities. Of course no score is kept, it is just for the it is all for the fun of the game.

On the Fourth, they start the day with a parade at noon, then move on to the Claire Okpeaha Memorial Marathon, three laps around Barrow, which comes out to be about a eight to ten mile race. Then it is on to the "Beauty contests" starting with the Top of the World baby, then Miss Teen, and Miss Top of the World. (I believe each winner goes on to the State competitions to represent the Barrow area). Then it is on to more races, this time gunny sacks for all ages according to age group, the Eskimo Dance and then more Anauragauraq.

On the Fifth, includes, one foot hop, egg toss, rock juggling, Umiaq (tradition skin boat) races, tug of wars and more baseball. On the sixth, ends up with more games during the afternoon: two foot hop, and nail pounding contest.

This is all for fun, smiles and laughter.

Wednesday night, our son wanted to go for a walk and my wife and I joined him as we wandered over to the games. The foot races were only about 75 to 100 yard dashes, so I thought I would wait and see about my age group. As they got up into the "older" ages, the distance became shorter. By the time they got to my age group, 51-55, I thought I would give it a try. Both my wife and son told me not to run because of my bad knees. I won my race, and then won the egg balance as well. In the egg balance, the leader dropped his egg about ten feet from the finish line, allowing me to come across for the win. They paid the first $15, Second $10 and third $5. This was the first time in my twenty year career of running that I got paid to run. I donated the winnings to a boy who needs surgery at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Of course outside of the races, everything remains the same, I had three funerals this week, and another person died on Friday, the Fourth.

I pray all have (had) an wonder-filled, and safe Fourth of July celebrations.

Peace and blessings.

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