A few weeks ago, my 50-year class reunion was held in Walla Walla, Washington, about an hour away from where we live in Kennewick. Because my mother still lives in Walla Walla, we are over there often to visit her and explore the beautiful town nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
Due to my close proximity to my alma mater, I signed up to be on the reunion committee. There are so many behind the scenes tasks to pull off a successful reunion, including administrative jobs which include the website and social media, and the hardest job of all, locating and contacting almost 500 classmates to invite them to the reunion. Other jobs require physical setup, and people to plan the various activities like the golf tournament, scavenger hunt, Friday night meet-and-greet, Saturday night dinner, and Sunday campus tour. This was going to be quite the event!
I decided to stick to what I know best and offered to do the table decorations, the In Memoriam board, and the photo booth backdrop. Each of these positions fit into my creative skills, and since we had almost a year, I could work on them far ahead of the reunion. At this point, it might help for you to know that the school mascot is the Blue Devil, and the colors are royal blue and white. The theme, suggested by one of our committee members, was “It’s a great day to be a Blue Devil!” This is what our principal would enthusiastically announce each morning over the public address system when he made the daily announcements and was the perfect theme for our reunion.
The Friday night meet-and-greet was held at the Veteran’s Memorial Golf Course clubhouse and was a casual event with open bar and a pizza truck available for dining. For the table decorations, I decided to go casual to fit the venue and reflect the farming side of Walla Walla. In the center of each table, there was a royal blue and white bandana topped with a large wooden charger and a vase of sunflowers. For extra interest, large blue and white varsity style W’s were added to the arrangements. A few white candleholders with tealights, and these tables were done. Total aside…I should have ironed those bandanas!!
The next item to tackle was the In Memoriam board. In the past, this has been done with posterboard to a banner, listing the names of our fallen classmates. For the 50th, I wanted to do something really special, and as I was mulling this around, I found inspiration in a most unusual place…Jeopardy! One night they had a clue about a monument located in Israel that was a silver weeping willow tree and each of the leaves were engraved with family names of those who perished in the holocaust. I wondered if something like that could be replicated in wood? Enter my clever husband, Jim.
Using pictures of a large tree on the high school campus, Jim created a silhouette of the trunk and shape of the tree. He used different types of wood for a more interesting effect, and surrounded it with a wooden frame. Next, our son-in-law used his Glo Forge machine to create wooden leaves with the names of each of the 80 classmates who had passed. He cantilevered the leaves at different angles so they would look more natural, and then I glued them on the tree. The end result was beautiful and impactful, and a visual reminder that life is short and every day is a gift.
For the Saturday night dinner, which was held at the beautiful Walla Walla Country Club, the table centerpieces were a little more formal with gold accents as a nod to 50 years. The club placed royal blue napkins in the center of each table. Those were topped with a couple of blue and white books that served as risers, and a flower arrangement of blue and white carnations. In each arrangement there were picks of the varsity “W” and glittery gold 50’s. These were complimented by gold votive candle holders. As a through-line from the previous evening, these arrangements also had the blue and white polka dot ribbons and the varsity W’s.
Lastly, we tackled the photo booth backdrop. My daughter Brooke and her husband Rick came all the way from Portland Oregon to set up and run the photo booth. They brought tons of fun photo booth props for people to use during their pictures, making the experience extra fun! For the backdrop, I ordered a variety of party fans; some in royal blue and white and some in gold and white. In the center of some of the fans, I put more varsity W’s and glittery 50’s to reinforce the theme of the table decor.
My daughter Robyn drove from the Tri Cities to install the fans on the wall using Command Strips, and she did a beautiful job creating a lyrical style that really made for the perfect photo backdrop. Total aside…if you are planning to have a reunion, a photo wall is the way to go. It gets people out of their seats and gives them an opportunity to group up with former friends and their families. We received nothing but positive reviews about the booth, and everyone went home with their strips of pictures as a memory of the evening.
So that was our class reunion synopsis. It was such a fun evening, full of great food at a beautiful venue, and so much love and laughter as we all caught up. It’s hard to believe that we graduated 50 years ago, as for the most part, we feel young at heart and vibrant. Maybe 68 really is the new 50!!