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High attendance for All School Reunion

The 2010 Park Rapids All School Reunion grand marshal, Martha (Wade) Vaerst, a 1930 graduate, participated in the flotilla Saturday on Fish Hook River. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 3
Alumni flooded the Red Bridge to watch the flotilla on Fish Hook River. More than 20 boats participated in the parade, which replaced the traditional event on Main Avenue. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 3
Reunion organizer Dave "Lefty" Anderson waves his hat to spectators while Hubbard County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Killmer operates the boat. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)3 / 3

Park Rapids was flooded with alumni for the weekend.

The Park Rapids All School Reunion, from Aug. 6-8 was another success, with 738 buttons sold.

"Every time this reunion got together, I was amazed," said organizer Dave "Lefty" Anderson. "I had a goal to sell 600 buttons."

This has been a reunion of ups and downs, though, he said.

He cited the Park Rapids High School renovations and Main Avenue construction, that required event locations to be changed.

"We had a very successful flotilla instead (of the parade)," he said.

More than 20 watercraft were in the flotilla on Fish Hook River. Alumni crowded along the Red Bridge and the shore of Red Bridge Park to wave to their classmates.

Boats from many classes were decorated in Park Rapids school colors. Grand marshal Martha (Wade) Vaerst, class of 1930, had a great time waving to spectators in her orange shirt and decorated hat.

Will Weaver, class of 1968, is the author of several young adult books. He spoke briefly at Sunday morning's program.

"Whether we graduated from the 'old' high school or the 'new' high school, we are, as the Beach Boys song says 'True to Our School,'" he said. "That's why we're here."

Jim Heeren, class of 1972, also spoke.

"On the flotilla yesterday, we were talking about the places where we used to hang out when we were kid, in junior high," he said. "Those places aren't there anymore."

He remembered the ice skating rink that was located where J&B Foods is now. That area transformed to the baseball field in the summer.

In between games, kids would run to Driscoll's for an ice cream cone.

Dr. Jane Churchill, with the class of 1960, also shared memories of school.

She attended country school and recalled it being a great opportunity.

"It was more like a family, where everyone got a part in the Christmas program and school picnics had great food," she said.

Churchill was one of very few women who attended medical school at the time. She returned to Park Rapids to practice medicine and continues to work in the emergency room.

"There was a limit to what women could do in the 1960s," she said. "I was in a class with two girls. Today, I went to my son's graduating medical school and over half the class was women."

A staple in the community, Jerry Fuller, of the class of 1953, recalled the fishing contests over the years.

"For the first few years, we had rods as prizes," he said. "It expanded and the contests continued."

It's a different era now, Fuller said.

Reunion events throughout the weekend included individual class get-togethers, the Backyard Bash at the American Legion Friday night and the "grill 'n' chill" picnic Sunday afternoon. A bus tour of Park Rapids was Saturday afternoon.

Overall, Anderson was pleased with the turnout and the community support.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561
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