The parking lots at the former Havana Northside High School were filled to capacity and cars were parked in every possible space around the school for blocks. More than 2,000 people were sitting under tents and large umbrellas that ringed the old baseball diamond. There were more than 50 grills going and half as many fryers cooking up some of the best smelling and probably tastiest Southern food on the planet.
“It was a huge success. This is the second time we’ve held a mega-reunion. The first one was held five years ago,” said the Rev. Clifford Hill, spokesman for the reunion committee.
“Try this, I made it myself.”
“Can I get you some water?”
“Do you want a soft drink?”
Just about every campsite offered something.
The well-attended event is known as a Mega-Reunion hosted every five years by those who graduated from NHS between 1963 and 2003 when the school closed.
Activities got underway with a parade Saturday, May 25, called the Parade of Heroes. County Commissioner Eric Hinson was the grand marshal, leading the procession of 40 riding units and six walking units. Immediately following the parade, classes from 1966 to 2003 assembled for a mini class reunion among themselves. Classes used their own imagination to decorate their campsites. They brought in paraphernalia ranging from photos to old yearbooks and at least one graduation gown showed up.
The reunion continued into the evening before people reluctantly said goodbye until Sunday. Sunday morning, May 26, the classes reunited for a prayer service at the reunion site. Then the party was on again with people visiting each site. The reunion ended at midnight with some people wishing it could last another day.
Organizers said they look forward to seeing everyone again in 2018.
“It was a lot of fun, and people really enjoyed coming back home and seeing members of the Gladiator (former school mascot) family that some had not seen since high school,” Hill said.
But the mega-reunion has another purpose. The Havana Community Development Group was able to purchase the former school buildings and grounds. However, to renovate the structure and landscape and turn it into a community center will cost thousands of dollars.
“We’re asking each class to help us raise money so that we can do this for the community. We want it to be a place where organizations can meet, children can play, hold meetings and classes,” Hill said. “We want to restore it back to a symbol of pride in Havana.”