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.”
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.
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.
“‘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.