MASSENA - Months of planning come to fruition this weekend when more than 500 graduates of Holy Family High School from 1964 to 1978 descend on Massena for the school’s “MegaReunion.”
“It’s over 500, probably 525 or something in that area, which is amazing, especially since we’re going coast to coast to coast to coast and into Canada,” organizer Ray Fenton, a member of the Class of 1969, said.
And, he said, with days to go before the event, people are still calling and telling him, “I’ve changed my mind. Can I come now?”
“A lot of people who didn’t go to Holy Family want to come,” Mr. Fenton said.
He said his intent, in addition to hundreds of people renewing old friendships, was to bring folks back to Massena in large numbers for a special event.
“Let’s see if we bring a crowd back to Massena to show a positive attitude toward the people who’ve had such a negative effect on this town,” he said.
That’s what inspired him and about a dozen other people to begin the massive task of locating Holy Family alumni late last year. They sent out about 1,200 invitations and got about 600 back, some saying they would be attending and others who weren’t able to make this weekend’s festivities.
“That’s not a bad return,” Mr. Fenton said.
They also used other Internet resources such as Facebook, Classmates and Instacheck to locate other classmates.
“When you’ve got one, it snowballs,” he said.
The reunion begins on Friday with a 1:30 p.m. golf outing, hosted by John Horan and Dan Carroll at the Massena Country Club. The cost is $25 for nine holes.
“Whoever shows up plays,” Mr. Fenton said. “Then we go to the individual venues.”
Beginning at or around 5 p.m., each class will have their own social hours at various venues.
The classes of 1964, 1965 and 1966 will meet at American Legion Post 79. The classes of 1967, 1968 and 1969 will meet at Coach’s Corner. The classes of 1970 to 1975 inclusive will be at the Village Inn. The Classes of 1976, 1977 and 1978 will get together at Skip’s Retreat.
Mr. Fenton said he appreciated the businesses or organizations opening their doors to host some of the get-togethers. Al Chilton at Coach’s Corner, for instance, is providing a band or DJ for those gathering there.
On Saturday, the doors to the old high school, now J.W. Leary Junior High School, will open at 2 p.m. for those who want to roam the halls and reminisce about their time in the building. A Mass will follow at 4 p.m. in the school gymnasium.
All classes will gather at 5 p.m. at the Village Inn for an informal evening hosted by the Cecot family. Entertainment is being provided by Ken Beckstead, who has contracted three groups to play, and there will be plenty of parking, with enough room for about 500 cars.
“The Cecots have been doing an amazing job for us. They’ve been cooking desserts and freezing them the last three to four weeks. They will not let us go hungry,” Mr. Fenton said.
Sheila Daoust will be photographing the weekend’s activities and will have those pictures posted on a website.
Some guests have already started arriving in Massena, according to Mr. Fenton.
“One of group of people is in town already. They came in from the Carolinas. They’re staying up on the river with friends,” he said.
Other out-of-town guests will be staying at various locations, he said, including local hotels, cabins on Barnhart Island and with family and friends.
“I went and asked two major facilities if they would give a discount. They were willing to do that,” he said.
Other businesses that have helped out include Peets Jewelers and the UPS store in Potsdam. Trophies from the Holy Family days will be on display, and Pat Peets helped refurbish those. The UPS store replaced at no charge a banner that was damaged while it was hanging up downtown.
Mr. Fenton said Trinity Catholic School will be the beneficiary of any money that’s left over after expenses are paid.
“We should have $1,000 or $2,000 that can go in their direction,” he said.