GLACIER VIEW, Alaska (KTUU) - For the Glacier View community, there's a tradition on the 4th of July like no other. "What's special about this area is nobody knows about it," Arnie Hrncir said, "It's the best kept secret in this entire state."
Nestled about 100 miles north of Anchorage, Glacier View is built on Alaska's pioneer spirit with homesteading roots. On Wednesday, there was a party for America, just off the Glenn Highway.
It starts with a symbolic formation. "They'll do the missing man formation," Hrncir explained. "Normally when I explain that on the mic I get choked up because you see that missing plane fly off due west you think of how many children never got to meet mom or dad and the sacrifices that were made so that we can do this craziness on the 4th."
The town of a few hundred knows how to draw a crowd for Independence Day. "Pretty much it's always been word of mouth," Hrncir said.
The parade is lead by an old soul, Hrncir's 43-year-old horse, Midnight. You won't find many florals or tissue paper decorated floats. Instead, it's the best of the "beaters." Many of the cars showcased here will go flying through the air in the afternoon on what is likely to become a final drive.
Hrncir said he had the idea to launch cars from the lofty cliff more than a decade ago. "The wife hit a moose with a car and so this was in 2005 we launched the car and then it was like, 'Well, heck that was kinda fun.' So than let's pick it up a notch and this year we've picked it up to a whole 'nother level," he told us Wednesday.
Now, locals and visitors from across the country pack a gravel pit to watch moves that would give "The Dukes of Hazzard" a panic attack. For some, the thrill is in not knowing where the cars will land or what the show might look like, "I've seen them go up the hill; this is the first time I've seen them come down the hill," said Cheryl Ruyz, who was visiting from Reno, Nevada.
For Aaron Andrew-Phillips, the launch was a farewell to the car he started driving in high school — a 2001 Mitsubishi Mirage. "It's a slow car. It's got 92 horsepower so it didn't actually go as far as everyone else but it rolled probably 10 or 12 times and it was still running when it hit the bottom!" he exclaimed after the descent.
After making the launch in the name of freedom, the cars are hauled away, but not before leaving a lasting impression.