Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Alumni Weekend 2014: Chicken Soup for the Homecoming Soul

This weekend every May; this beloved, cherished institution called Alumni weekend that falls on Memorial Day weekend every year is one weekend my hometown truly shines. St. Marys, West Virginia certainly is a special place and rarely more so than on Alumni weekend.

Alumni weekend is a time when we who live or lived in St. Marys host our class reunions and join other Alumni of St. Marys High School to reminisce and recount the countless SMHS memories and stories we all carry of those days of wide-eyed yore. We catch up with family and old friends and adorn and visit the graves of our lost loved ones. We celebrate our rituals and reflect on the many moments that helped shape us into the adults we would become. Alumni was a bit different for me on multiple levels this year. We had a family funeral happening amidst the weekend and old friends talked me into running the Alumni 5k, but more on these in later posts.

While there are plenty of Friday night festivities, the centerpiece of Alumni Weekend is the Saturday morning Alumni parade. I've blogged about this parade before and the joyous and somewhat overwhelming rapid-fire succession of long-time-no-sees that always take place here. This year was no different and amongst the mini-reunions, there were certainly moments to give me chills as well. At one point, the St. Marys High School and Alumni marching bands gather together to play the SMHS Alma Mater song.

The streets are silent and the familiar refrain echoes down the street.  This year, the song was conducted by Tre and Rachel, the nephew and niece of my former classmate and field commander Libby.

We lost Libby to cancer while she was still in high school, and as it was also a reunion year for Libby's class, the class of '84, it was a lump-in-the-throat moment. Getting to see Libby's mom Shari after kinda kept the lump from leaving, but it was so good to see her.

Multiple reunion parties abounded throughout the region including the one for the Class of '79 at The Greenhouse. Friends gathered, reminisced and caught up while aromas wafted from the grill where JB was whipping up grilled goodness made with Greenhouse products like the grilled roasters with Victoria Gourmet Toasted Onion and Herb with cream cheese and sour cream. Inside the Greenhouse were more creative hors d'ouerves such as the marinated cheese with Stonewall Kitchen Classic Greek dressing and Urban Accents Fisherman's Wharf spice.

My bestie Kristy has become quite the photo chronicler of my hometown and several of the photos from Alumni are hers.  To somewhat quote her, Alumni Weekend is also Memorial Day weekend, and this is often forgotten.  St. Marys also holds a Memorial Day parade and ceremony and Kristy captured this as well.  After all, how can we reminisce on lives made possible because we're free without recognizing those who bravely kept us safe to be free?  This ceremony provides a poignant end to a weekend filled with memories. The next several posts will recount much of the week in greater detail.  In all, Alumni Weekend 2014 sent me back to KC as it always does:



Anonymous said...

great post, Kaki! Very moving.

Anonymous said...

All The Purple & Gold ....... Sure Does Tug At Ones HEART ......Strings........


Anonymous said...

Great tribute to a great, little town we call home.

Millie said...

Great article! I sang the alma mater proudly at the parade!!

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