Volunteers the heart of Cordova’s Fourth of July

Renfeldt: ‘I didn’t have any fires to put out this year, literal or figurative'

Carol Maxcy pilots her kelp box racer in the Kelp Box Derby on July 4, 2019 before enthusiastic crowds along First Street. Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Cordova’s 2019 Independence Day celebrations ran smoothly, thanks to help from volunteers, says Cathy Renfeldt, executive director of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce.

“Without volunteers, there would be no July 4 festivities,” says Renfeldt. “It would be impossible.”

The main event of the morning was the Kelp Box Derby, which sent unmotorized vehicles of all sizes and colors racing down First Street. Former Cordova mayor Kelly Weaverling coordinated the derby.

Following the derby came a series of informal children’s events, including a footrace, a sack race, a three-legged race and an egg toss. At noon, the morning fog was replaced by the smoke from a community barbecue and potluck.

Volunteer coordinator Jalie Sebia touched base with potluck contributors ahead of time, making certain that the event wouldn’t end up with a dozen identical dishes. Local restaurants donated side dishes, including a potato salad from the Reluctant Fisherman Inn, a crab salad from Nichols’ deli and a green salad from Baja Taco. Concluding the festivities was a square dance led by Belle Mickelson, organizer for Cordova’s 4H Music Camp.

The Cordova Chamber of Commerce received major financial support for the event from AC Value Center, Cordova Wireless, Ocean Beauty and other local businesses.

Although events fell behind schedule as the day went on, it didn’t cause any significant complications, Renfeldt said.

“What I usually plan to do at these events is run around, putting out fires,” she said. “I didn’t have any fires to put out this year, literal or figurative.”

New events for 2019 included a disc golf event and stalls run by vendors. As the end of festivities drew near, square dance participants were encouraged to help clean up. By evening, the only sign of the event was a few strings of bunting running along First Street. A quick clean-up was also facilitated by attendees picking up after themselves, she said.“If you haven’t volunteered recently, I would encourage you to consider it.”