Alaska Day Festival, Incorporated, was formed as a non-profit organization in 1954, in order to perpetuate the annual celebration of October 18th as Alaska's birthday.
The day has rapidly grown from a local celebration to a widely renowned occasion and each successive year attracts more guests from all parts of Alaska and the Lower 48.
The first recorded celebration of Alaska Day, in 1949, was highlighted by the unveiling of the bronze statue of "The Prospector" on the lawn of the Pioneer's Home. Molded by sculptor Alonzo Victor Lewis is the image of William Fonda, better known as "Skagway Will", the two-ton statue is a tribute to Alaska's pioneers.
On Alaska Day itself, many dignitaries and representative groups from all branches of the armed forces join in a memorial service at the Sitka National Cemetery and in a parade through Sitka's business district. Local school bands, marching units, and costumed celebrants also participate in the parade, which ends near the site of the major event of the festival, the re-enactment of the 1867 ceremony atop Castle Hill.