Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Celebration 2022's Grand Entrance kicked off Wednesday night as dance groups from all over Southeast Alaska and the Interior converged on Centennial Hall.
The Grand Entrance this year was hosted by Wrangell.
Kevin Richard Callahan is one of the lead dancers with Shx’at Ḵwáan, one of the two Wrangell groups performing this year.
The Shx’at Ḵwáan and Kaasitlaan Dancers were the lead groups for Celebration 2022.
Callahan says the feeling of being back to in-person Celebration is indescribable.
"I couldn't even put it into words to explain or to break down how huge the emotions are," Callahan said. "The feeling, the excitement, is just overwhelming. It's it this is huge for me my family."
Callahan says that when the drums hit, and the dance begins, it feels like, "Oh, it's a rush to your soul when you feel the drum and it hits, and then you could be with one person, or 10 people ... It's like watching high school football and then going into the pros, it is amazing."
Michael Hoyt is also a dancer with Shx’at Ḵwáan. He echoed the sentiments of Callahan, saying, "After four years of waiting for things to clear up enough to have Celebration, I think it's mind-blowing, you can just feel it in your heart and you know when the drums start you could just feel that energy coming back ... it's a once in a lifetime thing."
It should be noted that Shx’at Ḵwáan was stood up by Marge Byrd, a Wrangell elder, and leader in the community.