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The Coast Guard Beach July Fourth Masacree


June 29, 2011

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska -
A few weeks ago, I was sitting with my wife and son on the sand at Coast Guard Beach enjoying the sunshine. It’s a lovely beach that requires some effort to get to, either down a recently completed trail – big props to the trail volunteers - from Point Higgins School or with a short hike through the woods from the end of South Point Higgins Road.
jpg Dave Kiffer

When I was growing up, that relative isolation made it popular place for us youngsters. You could have a secluded soirée, so to speak.

Now comes the disclaimer!

“Do not try this at home. “

I wish I could say the following was performed by professional stunt people on a closed course, but it was not.

I can say that repeating the following actions could lead to great variety of unfortunate outcomes. The fact that they didn’t happen to us, is more due to blind dumb luck, than good choices on our parts.

It was a Fourth of July sometime around my sophomore or junior year in high school. It’s somewhat surprising that that is the only detail I am somewhat fuzzy on. I think it was sophomore year because several ringleaders were Class of 75ers. U s youngsters were merely along for the ride.

Anyway, a party was planned for the beach and we dutifully trooped in from the end of South Point Higgins. Quite a few people were involved. I would guess there were at least 50 or 60.

Since it was the Fourth of July, fireworks would be involved. Since we were underage, many other bad choices would also be made.

At first, there was simply some eating and slight imbibing going on. Since it was also sunny some folks went swimming. No swim suits were in evidence. That was pretty exciting for us underclasspersons who were, of course, “pure as the driven (over) snow.”

The imbibing got serious when people started playing “king of the hill” on a large beach log. Natch, if you got knocked of the log, then you had to have another “sip” before getting back on. So, the more you got “knocked off” the less likely it was that you would have enough balance to stay on the log the next time and therefore, another sip was in order. And so on and so on.

Pretty soon, there were quite a few people who no longer feeling any pain.

Then the fireworks came out.

Now, of course, we had all been taught by our parents’ the very proper fireworks handling techniques.

No aiming at other people.

No lighting fireworks near groups of people.

No holding fireworks in your hands.

I remember a pop bottle rocket sailing a couple of feet over my head.

I remember a packet of firecrackers going off on the food table.

I remember an upper classman – I’ll just call him “Sparky” – wielding fiery roman candles like they were light sabers.

At one point, to avoid the ubiquitous pop bottle rockets whizzing about, I crawled inside an old amphibious vehicle that had been on the beach for decades. Someone lobbed a cherry bomb inside and my ears rang for several days.

As it got dark, the place became like a war zone with firecrackers and rockets going everywhere, lighting up the sky like – well, like the Fourth of July.

Later we would call it the “Fourth of July Barbeeque and Massacree,” although it wasn’t like anyone remembered too many of the details.

The last thing I remembered before I passed out was “Sparky” standing on a log with a fiery roman candle in each hand, naked to the waste, screaming like a banshee in an outtake from “Apocalypse Now.”

Several hours later, deep into the night, I woke up with an odd sensation.

My legs were wet.

Natch, I thought my bowels had given way, but it was worse than that.

The tide was coming in.

And I was well below the high tide line.

I wanted to crawl up the beach and found that my legs would not co-operate. The tide continued to come in. Soon it was nearing my waist.

Summoning my last bit of energy, I managed to emit a vocalization that I was sure sounded like “help” but was later told it was more like the sound of a highly constipated bear.

Fortunately, someone heard it and dragged me a little higher up the beach.

The next morning, a firecracker haze still hung over the beach. We cleaned up most of our mess and trudged back home.

Although there was much talk about making the “massacree” an annual “event” we did not - repeat - did not repeat it the next year.

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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