The Hedley Reunion on August 9 demonstrated again that former residents have deep roots here. They came from Princeton, Keremeos, the Okanagan Valley, Victoria, and as far away as Alberta and the Maritimes. For some it was an opportunity to connect with former classmates they had not seen since graduating from high school.
Planning for the event began a year ago when Don Armstrong of Hedley and Darryl McDonald of Keremeos started brainstorming about a reunion. They enlisted longtime Hedley resident Judy Turner and made the decision to get serious.
Jan Leake and daughter Cassie delighted children with face painting. In the afternoon the crowd was entertained by Jason Charters of Merritt who bills himself as the “Get Down Rodeo Clown.” He had brought his “assistants”, a couple of wonderfully realistic, long legged and nimble footed marionettes. Attached to him with wires and poles, one danced seductively in front of him and the other behind. Their enthusiasm, energy and sassy demeanour greatly pleased onlookers.
Postmaster Ruth Woodin opened the beer garden at 2 p.m. and toward dinner time appetites were aroused by the enticing aroma of 60 pounds of inside round roast sizzling on the Keremeos Fire Department’s giant barbeque. Head chef was Curtis Armstrong, ably assisted by Kerry Lomax, both of Kelowna. Removing the meat from the extremely hot rod proved to be a challenge. Don Armstrong needed to run to his home and find several pairs of additional gloves. “We were just a bunch of amateurs doing this for the first time,” he said. A number of salads and desserts were supplied by the ladies of Hedley. With all that good food in their stomachs, guests may have needed a little respite to prepare for the street dance.
Music for the dance was provided by the Blackbirds of Keremeos. “They did our kind of music,” Judy Turner said. “People got up to dance, some of whom I didn’t think would. There were about 150 people all over the street.” The high octane Blackbirds brought an aura of vibrant enthusiasm and excitement. All comments about the band were favourable, including from people who enjoyed the music sitting on their patios at home.
When it was over, each of the organizers gave a lot of credit to the numerous individuals who played a role. And each expressed positive thoughts about the year long experience of making it happen. “It was a success for me,” Darryl McDonald said. “I got to meet a lot of people I had not seen since high school.” Judy Turner summed it up with “I had fun. Maybe we’ll do something else next year.” Don said, “everyone was happy. And if there is money left over, we will donate it to the organizations of Hedley.”
The reunion brought people together and renewed relationships. Also, it once again demonstrated that the citizens of Hedley have mastered the art of throwing an exciting, class act party.