Commentary: Keeping Reunions Affordable — A Good Example

Let me concede my bias. For years I have advocated a conservative approach to the cost of class reunions so that the financial burden would be less likely to be an obstacle for classmates who do not have a lot of money for discretionary spending. I am among those in that financial situation.

I have a saying about reunions: it’s the people, not the place, not the party.

This spring, the East High Class of 1969 provided a good example of keeping the cost to attendees low and I commend the organizers for it.

As I understand the approach, the Reunion Committee announced the intention to have a 40-year reunion and invited class members who wished to donate money to help defray the cost of the reunion to do so. Several donations were received, including one of $200 from a class member.

As planning for the reunion continued, keeping the costs under control while also providing a good reunion atmosphere was kept in mind. The result was a reunion that included a Friday night event at a classmate’s home, with catered food, a tour of East High School, and a Saturday night dinner party in a special section of a local restaurant. At the restaurant, beverages were an extra expense for the attendees. There were two other events which cost extra if one wished to participate. Lunch after the tour of the school was planned for the Krystal restaurant across from the school, but a storm had cut electrical power to the business and it was closed, so the lunch moved to another restaurant. If one attended the lunch and had food or drink, that cost was an additional out of their own pocket expense. There was also a round of golf, for which the participants had to pay extra. Biography booklets cost more, too, $5 for those who wanted to order one.

For the activities covered by the reunion fee, that is the Friday night event, the tour of the school, and the Saturday night dinner, the registration fee was only $40. Better yet, the Committee provided for separate Friday and Saturday attendance. One could attend the Friday night event for only $10 or only the Saturday night event for $30.

So, not only did the Committee keep the cost for the entire reunion quite reasonable, it also provided a means for those who needed to keep their expense to a minimum options to attend one night or the other, reducing their registration cost.

For the record, the Saturday night event was held in a quite nice east Memphis restaurant, so even though the Committee was able to keep the price low, it did not compromise on the safety and quality of the location.

As I understand it, the Committee members think they will need to adjust the Friday night fee if food is catered for that in the future, but still, reunion finances finished in the black.

This successful reunion contrasts with other recent reunions in the registration fees charged, some known fees for those others were $65, $75, and $100, with no separate night division of fees.

I would speculate just as in most other aspects of life, the higher the cost, the fewer people who can reasonably afford to participate. Maximum participation should be a goal of high school reunions.

The Reunion Committee of the Class of 1969 organizing the 2009 gathering and those who donated funds in advance to help defray the cost of the reunion deserve congratulations not only for putting on a great reunion but also for giving all other classes an example of how it can be done in a way that could help reduce the cost for attendees, and therefore removing or reducing the economic barriers to attending.

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