Greenville’s annual alumni banquet set for Saturday

By Lonnie Allen • Last Updated 11:30 am on Thursday, May 31, 2012

GREENVILLE — The Greenville Alumni Association will have its annual banquet with a social hour beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion in Greenville.

The meal is $25 and anyone who attended Greenville Public Schools is welcome to attend, although there is a limited amount of tickets left for the dinner, according to Alumni Association Treasurer Steve Davis. About 30 tickets are left. Those interested in attending the banquet can call Kemp Insurance at (616) 754-4673.

This year marks 123 years for the association’s banquet, which which will feature a short program and speaker Dr. Rob Steele from the class of 1975.

The banquet is a long-standing tradition and gives people a chance to reunite with classmates they graduated with, or to catch up with people who may have graduated before or after them.

Class of 1962 graduate John Ranney tries to attend the banquet every year. He feels this banquet offers all classes that graduated from Greenville much more than a meal.

“I have immensely enjoyed going because I run into people from high school who inspired me that may not have known it then,” Ranney said.

Davis said it is noticeable that the people coming to the banquet are from classes that graduated in the 1960s and before.

“Usually it is the class that is having its 50-year reunion that has the larger turnout during the banquet,” Davis said. “This year the class of ’62 has 75 people confirmed for the banquet.”

The banquet’s dwindling amount of attendance from those classes graduating after 1964 has some wondering if a new tradition that started in the mid-1960s is the cause. The first Danish Festival was held on Aug. 18, 1965. Could this be the reason the 123-year-old tradition is seeing a lower turnout?

“After the mid-70s, attendance from those classes really drops off,” Davis said. “It could be because of the Danish Festival everybody is in town at the time anyway and a lot of reunions get scheduled around that time of the year instead of the first week in June.”

Davis said the association looked at changing the banquet time, but people felt the tradition was important and so the date remains in June.

“I am traditionalist at heart and I hate to see 123 years of tradition dying off,” Ranney said.
Class of 1962 graduate Ann Corner said her mother used to take her to the banquet. She said her family has three generations of Greenville graduates.

“Quite typically I go every five years,” Corner said. “I think you just see people you don’t normally see at the reunion. It is catching up with people that you were not in the same class with.”
Corner said it is about the memories and a chance to touch base with those you may not have stayed in touch with over the years.

“As you get older you want to reminisce,” she said. “People go to reconnect and talk about the traditions and laugh about what we did or didn’t do in high school and have a nice dinner while you are there.”

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