No parking lot parties allowed at Anchorage high school graduations, district says

Families of Anchorage’s high school graduates will no longer be allowed to tailgate in the parking lot of the Alaska Airlines Center after commencement ceremonies this year, per district officials.

Families had previously welcomed graduates with exuberant celebrations that included booming music, confetti cannons, candy and leis in the parking lot of the venue.

“Last year there were difficulties clearing the lot for next graduation (there are in many instances two a day) as well as inorganic materials left behind that negatively impacted the environment,” Anchorage School District spokeswoman Lisa Miller wrote by email Thursday.

District high school commencement ceremonies, which are held throughout May, have mostly been held at the Alaska Airlines Center since last year because the previous graduation venue, Sullivan Arena, was being used as a mass homeless shelter.

[Previous coverage: For many Anchorage high school graduates, the party’s in the parking lot]

After several of last year’s ceremonies, students emerged from the Alaska Airlines Center to a celebratory atmosphere as families honored the newly minted graduates, stacking them with leis and congratulations.

Schools have asked families to “refrain from tailgating and using the parking lot as a celebration venue,” and asked them to make plans elsewhere. They also asked people to keep from littering confetti, streamers and candy given impacts to birds and the environment.


Officials also said barbecues and tents are not allowed.

“Your own backyard is a much more appealing place for a party tent than an asphalt parking lot, and your photos there will make better keepsakes,” officials wrote to students and families.

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow covers education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Before joining the ADN, she interned for The Washington Post. Contact her at