By Ron VandenBoom
An estimated 2,000 out-of-town visitors turned the Chinook All Class Reunion into a dazzling wing-ding over the Fourth of July weekend.
Young and old alike joined in a continuous litany of activities including barbecues, music, tours, races, and a parade that kept Chinook hopping.
Rita Langford, chairperson for this years reunion summed it up when she said, It went very well. We had a wonderful time. Everything went well.
Perhaps the heart of the reunion was the Saturday afternoon parade that stretched for several miles and included the All Class Reunion Band a collection of musicians and majorettes from classes as far back as the 1950s.
It had to be the biggest parade ever for Chinook, Langford said.
Langford said the band originally consisted of about 26 members who had expressed interest, but by the time the event was ready to start about 65 had swelled the bands ranks.
The only song the band performed was the Chinook High School Song On Wisconsin. Langford said the first time the musicians tried to play the song they were a little rusty, but by the third time they went through it they were beginning to sound pretty good.
About 16 members of the group Langford said were current or recent graduates of the school who knew how to play the song and guided the older members along.
Horses and antique automobiles also made up part of the 45-minute parade.
Its always a lot of fun, said Pam Parsons, chairperson for the parade, who added that it had taken months for parade to be organized.
Parsons drove a two-wheel cart pulled by a miniature horse in the parade.
This was the second parade Parsons said she has organized for the event, the last being in 1994 and agreed that she was looking forward to being able to organize another parade for the next reunion expected to be held in 2004.
The spirit of the event was contagious as the Chinook Golf Course was overwhelmed by the number of participants playing in the Beer Belly Classic.
There were so many participating that it took 9 hours to complete, Langford said.
The Ken Overcast concert scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in the Chinook High School Auditorium was so well attended a second concert was added at 9 p.m. to accommodate the overflow audience, Langford said. And then after the show he came downtown to the street dance and sat in with the band playing there.
The event that surprised Langford the most for its attendance was the kids races Sunday afternoon.
Even the rain didnt dampen their spirits, Langford said.
She estimated that about 200 young people showed up to participate in the races that were sponsored by the Chinook VFW Post.
And they all enjoyed ice-cream after the races, Langford said.
Rain did move the Chinook Chamber of Commerce dinner from Sweet Park to the Catholic Church, Langford said.
The weekend reunion concluded Sunday night with a traditional Fourth of July fireworks display that, according to Langford, lasted about an hour. It was one of the largest displays Chinook has ever had, she said.
The reunion required community support and participation.
Thats the beautiful thing about it, Langford said. The way the entire community comes together to support and help put this sort of a thing on.
The next All Class Reunion is expected to be held in the year 2004. The organizing committee will meet Wednesday, July 14, to begin planning the next one, Langford said.