MASSENA - Hundreds of men and women in their 50s and 60s gathered this weekend in Massena to reunite and party like it was 1969.
The baby boomers came to the small community from all parts of the country and beyond, with different family and personal lives briefly put on hold for the special occasion.
Despite their vast difference in how their lives are now, they all had one thing in common - they were all at one time members of the now defunct Holy Family High School.
The school, which was in existence from 1964 to 1975, held a “MegaReunion” Friday and Saturday and reportedly drew approximately 550 attendees.
“My wife and I were class representatives for the class of 1967, so we were involved (with the event planning) from the beginning with the first meeting that ran last fall,” Dan Case said. “Our activity essentially was coordinating the open house here at the school and then arranging for the mass later (on Saturday.)”
The extra large reunion kicked off on Friday afternoon with a golf outing, hosted by John Horan and Dan Carroll at the Massena Country Club.
The day continued into the night, as each of the classes were divided in large groups based on their graduating years for their own social hours at various locales throughout Massena. Students who attended Holy Family but graduated from other schools after the school closed in 1975 were also invited to the reunion.
Ray Fenton, class of 1969, was an integral contributor to planning and organizing this weekend’s festivities.
“We had people coming from California, from Texas, Washington, Idaho, the Carolinas, Florida, Maine, Ontario, etc. We had a good turnout on Friday night,” Mr. Fenton said. “We started (organizing the reunion) in November. We had a small meeting at (Massena) town hall, and I figured when I called the meeting for the first time and put the ad in the paper to ask who wanted to be involved - I figured two or three people would show up and there was about 20 or 25. Even at that point, I didn’t think it would get any bigger than maybe a couple of hundred people responding.”
Mr. Case said that the core group of about a dozen organizers sent out approximately 1,200 invitations last fall and got about 600 back.
They also used other internet resources such as Facebook, Classmates and Instacheck to locate other classmates.
“The thing we were seeing (Friday) were the comments from people who couldn’t be here and how much they wish they could,” Mr. Case said. “I think there was as much excitement from them to hear about and see what was going on through pictures and things that they were missing and (they were) really as excited as everybody here and that was what we saw last night. People were very, very excited.”
On Saturday, the doors to the old high school, now J.W. Leary Junior High School, opened at 2 p.m. for people to roam the halls and reminisce about their time in the building. A Mass, lead by Rev. William Muench, followed at 4 p.m.
“It’s important that we pray for all of those teachers who have gone before us and I’m sure that we could make a huge list of classmates that once you hear their name, an awful lot of wonderful stories come to mind,” Rev. Muench said during his service. “I would hope that the gift that Holy Family High School gave to you is the gift of faith. I would hope that you could tell me of stories of your life, of times of crisis, difficulty, and unhappiness and say to me, ‘By the way, I couldn’t have gotten through it if it hadn’t been for my faith.’”
Norwood resident Kathy Tebo, class of 1970, said she was thrilled when she learned of the reunion planning.
“I was very excited. We had the chance to see old friends and walk through the school and reminisce,” Ms. Tebo said. “The school has changed tremendously, really tremendously.”
All classes gathered at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Village Inn, hosted by the Cecot family, for an informal evening to conclude the weekend.