By Pamela Dozois

For the 11th straight Saturday, “Cruise Los Alamos” participants gathered in a parade of cars in an effort to raise the spirits of all who are sequestered in their homes. But on Saturday, June 6, the cruise took on a special flavor – it was in honor of the 2020 graduating class of Olga Reed School.

At 5:30 p.m. cars were lined up on Bell Street, down Helena Street and around the corner on Leslie Street. Upwards of 75 cars, most of which gaily decorated with balloons and streamers, enlarged photos of graduating students, names painted on car windows, and signs congratulating the graduating class of 2020 of Olga Reed School. Prizes, courtesy of Cathy Collins Le Blanc and Collins Market were awarded to the Best Decorated cars in the parade, first prize going to Debbie and Chris Waugh, local residents whose car was decorated like a giant cap and gown.

The students were seated in chairs festooned with balloons, down the middle of Centennial Street anxiously awaiting the celebration.
Photo contributed

The students were seated in chairs festooned with balloons, down the middle of Centennial Street anxiously awaiting the celebration. 

DJ Orlando provided the music for the occasion. He said, “Just provide me with a generator and I am happy to do it for free.”

At 6 p.m. sharp, the motorcade, bedecked with congratulatory signs and smiling well-wishers, began their ride up Centennial Street passing slowly by the line of seated graduates, honking their horns, and waving, acknowledging the students for their achievements. After the first congratulatory drive-by, the cortege made a U-turn at Olga Reed School and came back down Centennial, allowing parents to pick up their children and join in the parade through town. The uninterrupted line of cars then weaved its way through the small streets of Los Alamos. People cheered and waved from the sidewalks along the route, applauding and shouting their good wishes to the graduates.

“It was a very special evening in our little town of Los Alamos. After nearly three months of weekly ‘Cruising Los Alamos,’ this was truly remarkable and deeply meaningful for so many as together, we celebrated the Olga Reed School Graduating Class of 2020,” said Michael Nicola, organizer of the weekly cruises. “It was obviously different from what was traditional, hoped for, by the 23 grads but WOW, was it ever special and we suspect the uniqueness will be spoken of for many years to come. 

“It was moving, literally and, emotionally. These wonderful young people had expected to be forgotten with all that is going on right now and instead, they were honored with the whole town turning out to say ‘Congratulations’ and to send them on their way. It was magic.”

“The car parade for our eighth-grade graduates was a real team effort. All I had to do was to toss the idea out there and the whole town jumped in,” said Laura Beas Diaz, organizer of the graduation event. “We had so many donations for our gift bags, it was amazing. And everyone who decorated their cars, it just made it so special. I hope this will be a treasured memory for our kids, knowing that everybody pulled together to honor and recognize them. I think we can honestly say that Los Alamos rose to the occasion in a truly spectacular way,” 

Working with Beas-Diaz and her family to create the event were Silvia Crystal De Alba, Ruby Teran-Laso and her family, Gloria Diffenderfer, Jeanine Brooks and Janilen Diaz. They collected donations and put together gift bags full of goodies and gift certificates which were presented at the beginning of the event. There were custom cupcakes made by Dawn Peters and Decadence Bakery.