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Story Last modified at 9:24 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grad Blast 2011 draws big crowd in safe environment
Event unites kids from Chugiak, Eagle River high schools

Alaska Star


Chugiak and Eagle River high school seniors and their guests celebrated graduation with the annual Grad Blast 2011, an overnight party on May 12 at Camp Carlquist, organized by parents and other volunteers. Grad Blast focuses on safe and fun entertainment and celebration for students. Organizers said they sold more than 400 tickets to the this year's party.
Photo courtesy Britany Lynne White Photography

Parents, business owners, community members and others interested in making graduation even more special for 2011 graduates joined forces for one of the best-attended events yet. The alcohol-free celebration, held May 12 at Camp Carlquist, included games, music, food and entertainment to keep teens safe and occupied for the evening. Lori Patin, whose daughter Hayley graduated this year, was one of the more than 70 organizers of the event.

"We sold 409 tickets," Patin said, "We sold almost 50 tickets the night of the event."

Patin said the event, in its 26th year, originally started as a safe and sober alternative to high school graduation parties. It has continued that tradition each year but also has grown to accommodate the interests of today's teens. Teens from both Chugiak and Eagle River high schools attend the event, she added.

"It's a way for the community to come together and celebrate the kids that are graduating and offer a lot of fun and prizes, and have a good place to celebrate," Patin said.

Volunteers organize the entire party, without financial support from the Anchorage School District, she said.

"Parents have one of 40 ways to be involved," she said. "They can be behind the headlines making cookie dough, sending things in, asking for donations from local businesses. They can choose any kind of shift or any donation they want to do, from spending time that night to helping ahead of time or afterward."

Patin said organizers ensure parents that their teens who've purchased tickets are at the event by calling parents if the kids have not shown up by midnight. But most years, that is not a problem, she said, because the kids look forward to attending.

Eagle River High senior Anna Evenstad was one of the 400-plus attendees at this year's event. She said that Grad Blast has become the "it" place to celebrate graduation.

"It seemed like everybody was there," Evenstad said. "The (organizers) put a lot of effort into fun things to do. The 'In it for a Minute' room was fun, and you could win prizes like gift cards. That was one of my favorites, but the henna tattoos were cool too."

Donors were especially helpful this year, Patin said, giving food, supplies, services and such prizes as two Kindles, a flat screen television, laptops and iPads.

"We couldn't do it without them," she said.

2011 Grad Blast donors

Alaska Airlines, Holiday Station stores, Alaska Center For Acupuncture, Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, Alaska Communications, Home Depot, Alaska Data Services, Home Optics, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Intuitions Day Spa & Salon, Alaska Railroad, IT Inlet Tower Hotel & Suites, Alaska SeaLife Center, Jalapenos Restaurant, Alaska Star, Jay's Taekwondo, All Life is Yoga, Joseph P. Caterinichio, DDS, Allstate, June & Michael Sobocinski, Anchorage Bucs, Kaladi Bros., Anchorage Landfill, Law Office of William D. Cook, Arby's, Les & Marlise James, Arianna Humphrey, Lisa Bridges, B&G Bookkeeping, Lora Reinbold, Barry & Terri Schimmack, Mike's Meats, Bear & Raven Adventure Theater, Moose's Tooth/Bear Tooth, Bella Vista, National Guard, Best Buy, Northern Chiropractic, Bill & Robin Bullock, Office Max, Birchwood ABC, Oien Associates, Burrito Factory, P&M Garden, Carrs, Papa John Pizza, Papa Murphy, Chevron, Pizza Man, China Lights, R&R Productions, Chugach Eye Clinic, Ravenwood PTA, Chugiak Eagle River Foundation, Rebecca & Steve Geurts, Chugiak Soccer Club, Rent-A-Can, Coca Cola Co., Roadrunner Amusements, Coho Coffee Co., Rodney P. Kinney Associates, Costco, Rural Discount Center, Craig & Conita Mullett, Scared Scriptless, Craig H. Mullett, DDS, Shelly Miller, Dr Jason Rampton, Shine's Sushi, Eagle River Automotive, Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions, Eagle River Bowl, Sleepy Dog Coffee Co., Eagle River Elks Lodge 2682, Spenard Builders Supply, Eagle River Printing, Spirit of Alaska, Eagle River VFW Post 9785, Subway of Alaska, Eagle Summit Dental Group, Taco Bell-Denali Foods, ERH Wolves-Kenny Ray, Tesoro-Stephen Hansen, Face Frenzy, The Crave, First National Bank Alaska, Timothy Skala, DO, First Student Bus, Tons of Fun, Fred Meyer, Totem Rentals, Garcia's Cantina, True Value, GCI, UPS, H2Oasis, Valley Home Center, Hands Off Car Wash, Wal-Mart, Harley-Davidson, Wasilla Splatter House Paintball, Hilltop Ski Area, Wheeler Mechanical, Chepo's Mexican Restaurant, Stephen & Marygen Sweeney and The Game Exchange.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, June 1, 2011.