Anchorage car club revs up graduation celebrations, one rolling parade at a time
Anchorage, ALASKA — “Charge!” You know it, the bugle call in every old Western movie when the cavalry comes riding in.
These days, in the 907, recent high school graduates know their party is being rescued when they hear a very different kind of horn.
A car horn — or rather, dozens of them.
All over the country, with the COVID-19 pandemic canceling traditional high school graduation ceremonies, teens and their families are responding with creative alternatives, such as neighborhood car parades. And Anchorage’s Pacific Islander community is taking car parades to the next level.
“I felt really loved and excited ... it was really special to me,” said Precious Fagafaga, a 2020 East High graduate. She’s an all-Cook Inlet Conference volleyball player for the Thunderbirds who earned a scholarship to play at Western Oregon, and Anchorage’s USO Ryderz 907 car club pulled out all the stops for her graduation parade Monday.
The club was founded on need.
Julio Fonoti Jr., a mechanic and the club’s president, started the organization because he knows the pitfalls of youth and wanted to provide teenagers an alternative to running the streets.
So he invites them to hang out at the garage where he works with club members. There, the Ryderz can share tools, help repair or customize cars and install stereo systems.
“Just to keep the kids out of trouble, that was the meaning of me creating this car club,” said Fonoti, who moved to Anchorage from American Samoa four years ago.
The Ryderz commitment to “usos” has expanded from there.