The prospect of planning the Holmes Junior High School (Flint, Michigan, 1963-2003) reunion was a challenge I was up for. I contacted possible committee members to help and chose Cherished Memories as a theme since most of our best times were there. I wanted to stray from a traditional black tie affair and do something different, yet fun.
We decided to have a luau, and visited several locations to find Bubba's Roadside Inn with a tropical atmosphere perfect for a luau dinner. Then I learned about a luau cocktail cruise from 10:30 PM to midnight aboard the Genesee Belle Riverboat. Perfect after a luau dinner, a luau cocktail cruise. We wanted to include children of alumni in weekend activities and also planned a family skate - more fun than a traditional picnic.
For a laugh I bought a Holmes gym uniform we used to wear; I also visited the library for old yearbooks, but discovered they don't have junior high yearbooks. I went to Flint Community Schools Administration to obtain a history, mementos and yearbooks, and Craig Carter let me copy all the available history.
By the end of January calls were coming in from people who went to Holmes over 20, 30, 40 years ago! I was especially humbled by conversations with older alumni who attended Holmes in the 1960s during segregation. Sharon (Rice) Jurdon recalled the dismal day Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. She said, “They let students go home and it was very sad.” Martin Gall said, “Some of my best times were at Holmes; I still have my school pledge card from 1963.”
For publicity, I contacted newspapers and cable stations, used word of mouth and welcomed help from the committee, family and friends. I registered at classmates.com and sent time is running out post cards. I contacted WDZZ 92.7FM and Jerald “Action” Jackson invited me to talk about reunion events on the air. I also used the old-fashioned approach and called everyone interested. Response was better than expected.
I purchased everything from leis and parasol umbrellas for beverages to Hawaiian music to set the luau mood. If people couldn't get to Hawaii anytime soon I wanted them to feel like they had just been there. I was very excited about the reunion and seeing old faces and reminiscing about old times.
Two weeks before the reunion I ordered t-shirts and confirmed reservations.
Four days before the reunion I picked up t-shirts and assembled registration packets with t-shirts, health information, pens, coupons and Genesee County calendar of events.
As each person arrived, they were greeted with a lei and an Aloha. We ate, laughed and took many pictures. One of the best moments was seeing our former principal, Mr. Miller, and my favorite teacher Ms. White.
As I anticipated, kids had more fun skating and laughing at some parents who hadn't been skating in years.
We celebrated a weekend full of fun to cherish for years. With a little imagination, creativity and commitment this was a class reunion that is sure to be talked about.
About the author Francia Malone owns Francia's Home Care Service in Flint, Michigan. She says the Holmes Junior High Reunion has been her heart's desire for many years. In an autobiography, she reminisced about junior high experiences, life-long friends and the transition from girlhood to adolescence, and wanted to plan the reunion. She's also very involved in the Malone Family Reunion.
Super Bowl reunions by Connie Auran
We are a group of fun-loving senior citizens who graduated from Rolla (ND) High School in the 1940s and '50s. We gather for three-day Super Bowl parties every year. We started in California, but continue in Fayetteville, Arkansas, because I (the hostess) moved. Some of us have been together since kindergarten.
The idea for a three-day Super Bowl party occurred to me when I became a widow and was still living in Southern California. I was married for 42 years, and after my husband's death I could not decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was afraid my friends would abandon me because I was single, so I entertained at the drop of a hat. It worked. Someone always owed me.
Rolla had a population of 1,000. Several high school friends were living in Arizona. I found another I had not seen for 25 years in San Diego. I called her. She mentioned a friend who was living in San Francisco. I started calling everyone and to my surprise not only were they all very enthusiastic about a party but everyone mentioned another name they thought I should call. I called people in Minnesota, Montana, Texas and, of course, North Dakota.
Where to draw the line suddenly became an issue. My class of 1949 had only 27 graduates so I knew we couldn't restrict it to just our class. I decided if you graduated from Rolla High School you could come to the party. I added Iowa, Florida, Washington and New Mexico. My invitation list started out with about fifteen couples. Much to my surprise 75% replied yes.
This started in 1996. I have had the party every year since and it keeps surprising me. I've received several letters and phone calls from Rolla graduates wanting to know what to do to get an invitation. We have had as many as 40, but numbers change because of our age; unfortunately we lose a couple of people every year. Most participants come back once they've attended one party.
We have a different theme each year. We've had a Mexican Hat Dance, Country Western, The French Connection, 1949 Rolla High School Prom (complete with the original menu and prom dresses), Mardi Gras, The Academy Awards, Arkansas Hillbillies, and New York, New York. Every year we have our own (over 60) Broadway Wannabees.
Everyone flies in on Friday, checks into their accommodations, and the party starts at my home that night with cocktails and dinner and homegrown talent or a high school pep rally. For Saturday, I prepare a list of local fun places and activities or they can just sleep in. Saturday night is the big night, combining professional and homegrown talent. We have had everything from comedian Anita Maltin from England to Jed Clampit (Mr. Arkansas).
Sunday finds everyone back here for brunch. Then it's game time and a chili supper. The guests usually fly out on Monday, but many come early and stay late. The group gets larger every year and younger people are coming. We plan to continue till we are too old or too pooped to party!
Ideas for a reunion party
Entertainment - I have found entertainment in many places. I watch the local paper for who is appearing where, and go to see them. Many times an expensive local entertainer will do a reasonable private gig if they can work it into their schedule before or after an appearance. I found Jed Clampit at a popular college hangout and he came to my house for an hour show for one-third what he usually charges. Just be brave and ask!
I have used great entertainment from local schools. They have small groups that they will send out for just a donation to the department.
I have also found great dance teams from local dance studios at a reasonable price. We found Lola and John - husband and wife team - at a luncheon and they came for six years in a row and always were costumed to fit the theme. They sang and kept the show together.
Centerpieces - We had a dining room table that seats 12, a kitchen table that seats 10 and card tables set up around the other rooms. Easy, inexpensive ideas come from magazines and creative friends. For the western theme, artificial sunflowers filled empty bean cans on each table. Mexican night was bright with colored flowers, mariachi shakers, Mexican pitchers, etc. French night featured a large container filled with loaves of French bread at the main table, French pottery, French travel posters, a book about how to speak French, black berets, etc. For Mardi Gras I used a large Ella Fitzgerald cookie jar I had. Look around your house and you will spot things: pictures on the wall or even pretty sheets that can be floated over a medium-sized box. L ook at all your trays, knick knacks on the book shelves. For the prom I found some pretty dancing couples in a magazine, enlarged them at Kinkos and copied them on very heavy paper. Then I cut them out and glued copies back-to-back and put them on all the tables. A little confetti and ribbon and voila!
Menus varied with theme.
Decorations - Check your attic, thrift stores, catalogs (such as Oriental Trading Company, Shindigz and Stumps). We have painted on walls and windows (easy to repaint after the party).
Summary - Most of the ideas have come from the participants and magazines such as Reunions. We plan the theme one year ahead so everyone has time to submit ideas and work on their act or skit. We usually have professional entertainment one night and our homegrown talent the other night. Sunday is “game day” and while the men watch the game the women usually gather and catch up on gossip.
About the author Connie Auran, Fayetteville, Arkansas, grew up in a small North Dakota town and worked her way to a BS degree at the University of North Dakota, where she was elected Homecoming Queen. Her late husband was a returned Korean Veteran who had lost a leg in the conflict. They had three sons and lived most of their lives in Denver, Colorado.
Rock Around the Clock
Print new record labels containing the party particulars and place them on old 45s or fake records. Name the “record company” after your reunion. Encourage all your cool cats to come dressed in ‘50s finery. These are invitations that are bound to go platinum.
Use a fabric paint pen to write the invitation on a bobby sock or stuff the invitation into a sock.
Use photo postcards of Elvis, James Dean, or Marilyn Monroe as your invitation stock.
Set up a soda shop with small cafe tables.
Black, white and hot pink is the perfect color combo for this blast from the past.
Cover the tables in Rock & Roll imprinted cloths.
Hang inflatable music instruments around the site.
Find old saddle shoes or sneakers (not modern-looking athletic shoes). Hang from the ceiling.
For a retro centerpiece, slip a water tumbler into a bobby sock, then fill the glass with straws and slip the sock into the shoe.
James Dean, Elvis, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe movie posters can adorn the walls next to posters of hot rods and oldies album covers.
Contact a local classic car club about displaying or renting one or more of their hot rods at your party site.
If your budget allows, rent an old-fashioned jukebox. If not, use inflatable or cardboard versions for atmosphere.
Hang rock and roll theme signs, posters and cutouts that will turn any room into a soda shop.
Resurrect your old turntable to spin the '50s top tunes. If you don't have a turntable, you can find collections of classic oldies on CD.
Get everyone up to do the stroll, mashed potatoes and Lindy and other classic party dances.
Spin the Chubby Checker classic and have a Twist contest
“Rate the Record” just like they did on American Bandstand.
See who can keep a hula-hoop moving the longest or spin the most hula-hoops at once.
Hold a “Spotlight Dance.” You can accomplish this with a large flashlight, disco or utility light.
Rent or buy classic movies and TV shows from that era or films set in that period: Rebel Without a Cause, On the Waterfront, Back to the Future and Grease are just a few. You can find many classic sitcoms such as Happy Days, Father Knows Best, and Laverne and Shirley on the Nickelodean and other cable channels.
Have an a cappella “doo-wop” contest.
They'll rock around the clock with an Elvis impersonator or see who, among your guests, is the best mimic of “The King.”
Soda shop staples; ice cream sodas, sundaes, malteds, milkshakes, pizza, burgers and fries.
Serve guests on TV dinner plates.
Contact your Coca-Cola distributor to purchase classic Coke-filled glass bottles and serve with two straws.
Dress like a soda jerk or carhop (including roller skates) to serve guests.
Decorate a round cake with black icing to resemble a record and include the guest of honor's name on the “label.” Or, just slip a disc whose label has been customized to the gust of honor on top of the cake.
The party “rock and rolls” on for guests who take home a CD or tape of '50s classic hits
Take a close-up instant photo of each guest and glue to the back of a 45 record, invitation label affixed, to use the disc's hole to frame their face. TIP: Set the camera on a tripod and seat the subject on a stool to get a perfectly-sized photo.
Guys love playing “air guitars,” so give them an inflatable version so they can rock around the clock.
Beads with blinking guitars can light up the night.
Make them feel like “The King” with a pair of Elvis or rock and roll sunglasses.
Key chains, pens, magnets, stationery and other desk accessories are available in replicas of classic cars and celebrity figures from the fabulous fifties.
The ideas listed here range in complexity to suit many personal preferences and requirements. They are meant to inspire and guide you as you plan your reunion. Have a great time brainstorming and planning a fantastic party.
Dig out old 8-track tapes and write the party particulars on a new tape label and send in a padded envelope. Create a take-off song title for your guest of honor such as Gene Turns 50 by Blood, Sweat and Especially Tears.
Attach your invitation to a disco ball keychain.
Superimpose a photo of a male guest of honor’s face onto 70s film posters. Cut out the silhouette, glue onto an 8 1⁄2 X 11” sheet, write party particulars on the blank areas of the sheet. Make photo copies, add a bit of glitter decoration and send. For a female use a photo of Cher during her Sonny days or disco queen Donna Summers.
Ask your guests to wear their best disco duds to compete in a “best costume” contest.
String multi-colored Christmas lights on doorways, furniture and walls and set them flashing to turn your pad into Studio 54.
Play Saturday Night Fever or Thank God It's Friday and Up In Smoke on your VCR to get everyone into a groovy state of mind.
If it's shiny, flashing, mirrored, glittered, or strobing, it will help to set the stage for disco fever.
Rim your dance floor, chairs and tables with wired mylar stars
Let the stars shine as brightly inside as they do out with star-shaped serving plates.
Use shimmery mylar plastic for table covers. Create table top decor with foil flowers, silver containers and battery-operated twinkle lights.
Fill prism gift bags with tissue paper for an eye-catching and affordable centerpiece.
Create backdrops with metallic balloons
Every self-respecting disco had a bouncer at the door to make sure you were hip enough to enter the club. Stamp guests' hands to verify admittance.
Remind your guests of the Disco Duck, the hustle, and disco line dances and hold a dance contest.
Hold a Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever) “strutting” contest for those who don't dance. Feature the tunes of the Bee Gees
Videotape all the party activities to show later as the event winds down.
Play Name That '70s Tune game.
Host a sing-along of Schoolhouse Rock songs.
Get everyone involved in a hot game of '70s trivia incorporating questions about the guest of honor.
Cheese or chocolate fondue were party staples.
Serve potato chips with the infamous California Dip made from sour cream and dry onion soup mix.
Other '70s snacks included Chex Party Mix, Swedish meatballs and little pigs in the blanket.
Fill a crockpot with the makings for Sloppy Joes.
Let your good taste reflect off these silver party plates, cups, and utensils or gold ones
Add glamour to your food presentation on glittery foil charger plates
Bavarian Waffles topped with whipped cream and strawberries will make a sweet alternative to birthday cake.
Set up a chic cocktail bar for nightclub drinks both with and without alcohol.
Party Favors /Prizes
Take instant photos for your disco dudes and dolls to keep of them striking a retro Saturday Night Fever pose.
You'll see in a minute what a great mood your guests are in with these novelty mood rings.
Buy classic collections of The Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Sonny and Cher, Captain and Tennille or KC and the Sunshine Band so they can shake their bootie long after the party has ended.
Pet rocks are making a comeback in novelty stores or dig up your own and inscribe the name of each guest.
Vanity prevails when you present your guests with their disco pocket-size mirrors.
These theme ideas are from partyplansplus.com. For a very special offer to Reunions magazine readers, click here!