Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Reunion to Remember

The Karl Weiss school held its annual celebration this past weekend. It is always a huge three day affair with the main activity being a Sunday parade on Balta Ave beginning at the Plaza de Armas with any and every school and organization invited to attend and march. Each group marches past a reviewing stand where dignitaries judge the appearance of each unit within various categories. There is about four hours between the first and last unit reaching the reviewing stand. The prior Friday and Saturday are filled with evening concerts/entertainment, classroom reunions at the school with retired professors conducting mock teaching sessions and making speeches, and individual graduating classes having parties throughout the city.

This year’s event marked the 54th year of the school’s existence but it was much more than that for one of the alumni classes. Thirty-five years is a milestone number for anniversaries, and members of the 1980 graduating class – Maribel’s class had been working feverishly for several months to prepare. Hundreds of hours beginning last January were spent locating and contacting former classmates and in meetings to decide on clothing and accessories to be worn, travel logistics, hotel arrangements, selecting restaurants and food choices, and the hundreds of other details that need attention. But as usually happens, despite some last-minute frantic moments it all came together.

A number of people flew in to Chiclayo or arrived by bus on Sunday morning just prior to the parade. Many were from Lima and other cities in Peru; some from Argentina and Chile. Some of these folks had not seen each other since graduation thirty-five years ago and there were laughter and tears when greeting each other. The shirts, blouses, ties, scarves and gold pins were custom made for this occasion. The ties and scarves bore a “class of 1980” logo.

It was impossible to get a photo of all fifty members marching, or of the tears some of them were shedding, or of the pride on everyone’s face. Several people described to me afterwards an intense ‘tingling’ feeling as they marched.  

After the parade the group assembled for lunch, casual talk and dancing at the restaurant Perla de las Flores, a popular place for large parties. Food choices were arroz con pato or cabrito. Both were delicious as were the finger foods and cakes.

The weekend culminates with a massive outdoor Sunday night party with dancing to live music and consuming prodigious amounts of beer. It is a raucous affair where intelligent conversation ends somewhere around 9:00 pm in favor of laughter, hugging and repeated exclamations of affection for each other. During this event nearly every class member told me that Maribel was the reason this reunion was a success. It’s gratifying to know that they recognized all the effort she had put into it. I feel privileged and proud to be associated with these people and am happy they enjoyed their reunion, but I am also glad it is over so that I can have my wife back.

All of the work paid off as the 1980 alumni class won second place in the marching competition. Maribel’s classmates acknowledged that she was mostly responsible for this achievement and insisted that she accept the banner and make the acceptance speech. 

Following the Monday morning award ceremony a handful of classmates who were still in town and didn’t want to let go of the weekend just yet had lunch at a nearby restaurant for one last celebration. Parting comments were, “See you next year” and ”Next year we’ll be number one!” Probably many of them won’t be back next year, and those who are may not win first prize but wherever they are they’ll always have the memories of that weekend in August 2015…a reunion to remember.

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