By Andreas Butler
DAYTONA TIMES — Normally when people attend high school reunions, it’s to reconnect with classmates from a specific class year or school. On July 27, a different type of reunion took place at Cypress Park.
“A Celebration: A Remembrance’’ was a reunion for all local high schools and all classes to honor classmates who are deceased. About 300 people attended the reunion, which included a candlelight vigil for those who have passed on.
“We just call it a celebration for all schools and all classes for our classmates who have passed and gone before us,” said Rosetta Bailey, a graduate of Spruce Creek High’s Class of 1984 and a member of the event’s committee.
Along with Spruce Creek, the event featured graduates from Mainland, Seabreeze, and Father Lopez.
Sparked after death
The reunion came about in a unique way.
Classmates Lester Jones William Kelly, Dexter Gordon, Clarence Lassiter, Richard White and Allen Davis of the Spruce Creek Class of 1985 had planned to get together pretty soon. However, when Davis died in June, plans changed.
After attending Davis’ wake, Jones connected with other classmates and the event was created. There’s no special name for the committee – just some classmates who want to connect and honor their deceased classmates.
“It’s been in the making for a while. Those guys had planned something but once Allen Davis died, Lester Jones went ahead and reached out to everyone and got this started,” commented Del- la Nelson, who attended Mainland. She actually received her diploma at then-Daytona Beach Community College.
Many attended the reunion wearing school attire and school colors, showing off their blue, red, orange and green. Many who didn’t wear school attire wore their school colors.
The event was dominated by graduates of the 1980s but did have people attend who graduated in the 1960s, 1970s, 1990s, 2000s and other decades.
As classmates have passed away over the year, it was a way to reconnect.
“It was an opportunity for us all to get together and enjoy each other’s company rather than next only seeing each other at a funeral,” said Bailey.
Nelson, who also served on the reunion committee injected, “We all came together as one people. This is something that is needed. People are dying every day. It’s a great event and everyone is happy.”
The reunion also brought in people from around the country.
Aletha Baxter, a Spruce Creek 1984 alum and reunion committee member, noted that people heard about the event on social media, specifically Facebook, and decided to attend from states like the Carolinas, Georgia and Texas.
“Everyone here are not locals. We have people here from all over the country. Many classmates, who now live in different cities, came home for this. Many friends on social media in other places came along too.”
Other committee members were Donna Gordon (Spruce Creek ’85), Ophelia Fields (Mainland ’84) and Anthony White (Mainland ’85).
“We basically had mostly two or three people including two women and one man from each school on the committee. We split up tasks too,” added Nelson.
July 2020 plans
The reunion was a time to enjoy music and food.
Attendees dined on barbecued chicken and ribs, potato salad, baked beans, rice, macaroni and cheese and other cuisine. Some danced and others just listened to music provided by a deejay.
There are plans to continue the event.
“We plan to do more and try to make it an annual event. We have a date set for next year in July. We just have to make sure that the park is available for our date,” Nelson added.
This article originally appeared in the Daytona Times.