Graffiti eraser; meet the guy who cleaned up the locomotive

Published: Mar. 24, 2017 at 2:18 PM AKDT
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Anchorage born Frank Perez says he used to play on the old Alaska Railroad steam locomotive 556, which is on display at the Park Strip, as a kid.

So when he drove by the historic landmark, earlier this week, and saw that a graffiti artist had covered a large section of the train in spray paint, he decided to act.

"When I see stuff like that, it really peeves me," Perez said.

Perez does graffiti removal for his employer, so he said he had the right tools.

"Eighteen sponges and $24 worth of graffiti remover and it came right off," Perez said.

Around 5 p.m., on Wednesday, Perez and his two daughters, a 15- and 8-year-old, went to the Park Strip to remove the graffiti.

"It was also an opportunity to teach my daughters a life lesson," said Perez. "You know, sacrifice, honor, duty and to make them understand how to be productive members of society, so they can be pillars of society, in their community, when they get older."

Perez said he didn't check with city officials, before starting the cleanup.

"Honestly, it didn't even cross my mind," Perez said. "I just looked at it and thought, 'That needs to get cleaned up.'"

Maeve Nevins-Lauter with the Municipality of Anchorage Parks & Rec Department said city officials are grateful for what Perez and his family did. They say no damage was done to the locomotive display.

"It is slightly faded from his clean up effort, as well as he couldn't get around the all the rivets," Nevins-Lauter said. But also adds, "My gosh! They did a fantastic job, so I'm not criticizing them at all. I'm sure the maintenance guys feel the same way."

"I had the tools, I had the supplies, [and] I had the know-how to get it done," Perez said with a chuckle. "I just took the action, and I didn't wait for an approval."

Perez also said he was motivated by his pride in the city.

"They call this place The Last Frontier, and I want to keep that title and keep it the way it is, instead of making it the last frontier anyone would ever want to visit," he said.

Parks & Rec said the city will proceed with a volunteer project to seal the train display in a graffiti-resistant coating, when the weather warms up.

While they are grateful for Perez's efforts, Parks & Rec suggests that people, who want to help, call their volunteer coordinator at (907) 343-4135.