Ever since I was a kid, my a family had a reunion ever five years. I always thought they were kind of boring, everyone would get together for a picnic in the park, but all anyone ever did was eat and talk. I always thought it would be more fun to at least organize some games or something.
This year, I got my chance to organize the reunion for about one hundred and twenty-five people. I was complaining to my grandmother about the reunions always being so boring and she said why didn't I see if I could do better. I was bound and determined to do something different--something fun. I thought of going somewhere adults and kids both enjoyed, like the zoo.
Our family has long had a phone tree system--everyone calls only a few family members and then they call other family members, and so on until everyone in the family has been reached. My mom and my aunt Ellie were not real happy about the idea at first, but after some convincing and explaining the details of my plan. I said I had already chartered two buses and reserved a banquet room at the restaurant inside the zoo. The way I looked at it, I couldn't lose. If everyone had a good time I would be a hero and the trend for fun-filled reunions might continue and if it was a disaster, I wouldn't have to plan another reunion again. I got lots of calls from my relatives when they found out about my plans.. I managed to convince almost everyone that it would be great to see the animals and spend time as a family doing something fun.
The buses picked everyone up in the hotel parking lotat 9:00 A.M. on Saturday and tooking us to the zoo for the day. Most of the family would see the zoo on foot, while the less able family members took a tour tram around the zoo. Among them was Louise, my 95 year-old great aunt and cousin Kim, who was eight months pregnant with her first child.
The zoo isn't small, but with a grand total of nearly 150 people (including new members of the family, by birth or by marriage), groups of us met up with each other several times. Sometimes the groups would walk around together for a while, get a snack, buy things at the gift shop or see a show. Everyone had a terrific time. I saw people smiling that I didn't know had teeth! The kids had the most fun and with their parents, instead of having to go to a separate room so they could be kids.
In the evening met in the banquet room at the restaurant. The tables had been covered with african print linens and the room decorated in a jungle motif. A DJ set up beside the dance floor was playing instrumental tribal African music. To conserve funds, our group was given a shortened menu with a variety of dishes to please everyone. All of the food was outstanding! There were sodas, juice but I had a glass of wine with my meal.
After dinner, the DJ started playing a variety of music, from Jazz, to Big Band, and rock from the 50's, 60's, 70's and even some 80's thrown in. Everyone didn't dance to every song, but there was a group dancing to every song. Best of all everyone, had a great time! The DJ did a great job organizing some games just for the kids and other games for everyone.
Even the ride back to the hotel was fun. Everyone was singing songs, joking around and sharing memories from the day. I received calls from my family for a week afterward. Everyone told me how fantastic my reunion idea was and even made suggestions on how the next reunion could be even more fun.
I also had a ball looking over all the pictures and organizing them into an album. It was the first time in my memory, that the pages were all filled up and their were pictures left over.