This 80-vehicle car parade drives around Anchorage celebrating high school graduates

The Uso Ryderz 907 car club in Anchorage has been celebrating high school graduates around the city with car parades. “We just do because it’s a good deed,” said President Julio Fonoti Jr. (Photo courtesy of Julio Fonoti Jr. Facebook page)

The Class of 2020 continues to find ways to celebrate as traditional graduation ceremonies have had to adapt to health guidelines.

In Anchorage, one local car club led by Julio Fonoti Jr. has started holding car parades for graduates around the city.

“Basically, you’re going to be looking at lowered trucks, lifted trucks with some cool lights, cool brands, cars with loud music, because that’s what we’re really into,” Fonoti said. “Customizing trucks and cars, and putting loud loud systems in it. And just basically, not your average everyday driver.”

Related: Anchorage high school seniors begin pandemic-style pomp and circumstance ceremonies

Fonoti is the president of Uso Ryderz 907, a car club he started with a few family members and friends about three years ago.

Fonoti said usually the club hosts meetups where people can show off their rides or help each other fix them up. But, last week, Fonoti’s little sister asked if the car club members could drive by a friend’s house where they were hosting a small graduation ceremony.

“When we started the parade,” he said, “everybody was just coming, started coming up with their phones, cheering, clapping their hands, saying congratulations.”

Soon, other people started requesting car parades too. Fonoti says the club held four car parades Monday and nearly 80 cars participated.

Catch up on the latest coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska.

Fonoti says he is excited to be able to do this for kids in the community, but it is bittersweet.

Fonoti’s own daughter is graduating this year too, but she lives in in America Samoa where Fonoti is from. Due to the pandemic, he isn’t able to fly home and attend her graduation.

“I wanted to go so bad,” Fonoti said. “It’s really sad for me because I couldn’t be there for my daughter, and me doing this gives me a peace of mind that I’m just dedicating my time and everything for her and at least I’m doing something, we are doing something, for our kids.”

Fonoti says he will continue to organize the parades for as many people who want them.

Related: LISTEN: Shocked and confused, high school seniors navigate a school year cut short by the coronavirus

“‘I’m pretty sure they’ll remember this for the rest of their lives,” Fonoti said. “You should look at their faces. I mean, it’s just, it just brightens up the whole thing. I mean, they’re just happy.”

Fonoti has nine parades across Anchorage scheduled for the rest of the week so far.

CongratulationsSo all the graduates´┐╝´┐╝

Posted by Julio Fonoti Jr. on Saturday, May 16, 2020
Previous articleBowhead whales are changing migration patterns, researchers say
Next articleIn downtown Anchorage, the streets are quiet and parking is ample. Can locals keep the businesses afloat?