Celebration Travel

Cars Fly for the 4th of July in Sutton, Alaska

July 13, 2018

The 4th of July: an American holiday most commonly spent drinking beer, wearing red white and blue colors, and watching fireworks explode.

Well here in Alaska, it doesn’t get super dark. So fireworks aren’t always shot off, and if they are it’s always close to midnight – way past my bedtime and still way too bright.

But this year, I discovered the Glacier View 4th of July celebration where the small town of Sutton (pop. 1400) gathers together to launch cars on their last leg off of a cliff. And man, if that isn’t a celebration of America’s proclamation of freedom then I don’t know what is.

Some history on the event:

It started several several years ago when someone in the town thought “Hey, this car is on it’s last leg. I bet it would be awesome to watch it drive off of a cliff.” And people agreed. And a tradition was born.

2018 was their biggest year yet – there were easily 1,000 people there gathered for the community, the delicious lunch, and the Grand Show. The show Roadkill had heard about it and came up for a few days to get cars of their own to launch. Sometime in October, their episode about this will be available on Netflix!

This year, they launched 6 cars and a snow machine. This is the launch process: all cars have to have running engines. The vehicles had a metal bar welded to the front that allow it to follow a railroad tie track at the top of the cliff, allowing the vehicle to stay in a straight line. To get the car to go, a weight is placed on the gas pedal and off the cliff it goes!

It truly is a spectacular event; complete with a parade (Youtube video here), a bush plane flyover, and a heck of a lot of camaraderie.

I found this video on youtube that someone compiled of some of the car launches. I’m also including a little play-by-play of one of the launches below. One thing I really enjoyed was how friendly everyone was to each other. We met locals, and people visiting from Washington, Minnesota, California, and Ohio who all had found out about the event and decided to come out to see it for themselves. It’s so hard to believe little Glacier View getting so popular for this event!

How did you spend your 4th of July? Who wants to come up and get a car ready for the 2019 4th of July car launch?

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