June Event is Both Madly Entertaining and Historical for CDCI East Alumni

In Local, Upcoming Events

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland

The Town of Cobourg will be rocking over the weekend of June 20 to 23 with a reunion event that is both madly entertaining and historical at the same time.

Around the town over those four days, you will see alumni enjoying 10 amazing activities that are all part of the CDCI East Class of ’74 50 Year Reunion.

And afterwards, the Northumberland County Archives and Museum has asked the organizers for all their records since – as far as they can ascertain – it may be this community’s first 50-year high-school reunion.

There have been previous homecoming events and reunions, such as the 25-year one that was held for CDCI East grads from 1973 to 1975, but this one is for anyone who graduated from the former Cobourg District Collegiate East in the year 1974.

Event co-chair Jackie Quemby says alumni are coming from British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and maybe even Nova Scotia, along with those coming from around Ontario. Some will even arrive from New Jersey, Oregon and Ohio.

“Back in the ’70s, school was our common ground,” she recalled.

“Without the internet or cell phones and with only one screen at home, school was more than just a place to learn; it was where we saw friends, hung out, and participated in sports and other activities. In our small town, high school was the centre of our teenage years.

“We shared our lives in person every day, creating strong bonds with each other and with our teachers. This connection is why so many alumni are eager to travel back and reunite, reminiscing about the memories we made together.”

Co-chair Susan McCaig-Campbell says many of the alumni have remained in touch, including those who have moved away, and those who have moved away but later came back.

“Many of us have celebrated together with birthdays and Christmases and various life changes and moves for years,” she said in a recent interview.

Carol Timlin (who heads up the Facebook and sponsorship committees) said the event had its roots in a December 2022 holiday get-together among a few alumni.

“It came out that 2024 would be our 50th anniversary of graduating from high school,” she said.

When talk turned to an event like this, Susan added, “Jackie was just the person to do it. I said I’d help.

“It’s a big job, and everyone helped a great deal. It’s a group of strong women, and we have recruited other people to help – husbands, spouses, long-time friends, long-time acquaintances who now have become friends.”

They have done well in terms of getting the word out, and a lot of the credit is due to the special Facebook group Carol set up, modelled to some extent on the Cobourg Yesteryear group.

“We thought it would be good to generate something for this group of 1974 graduates – not just for this, but reminiscing about things that were important to us back in high school,” she said.

Now with 107 members, the website also functions as a Memory Lane, with shared recollections and things like photo challenges. Some people have even created their own Facebook accounts expressly for the purpose of looking in.

“Hearing each other’s stories – these things are snapshots in our minds, and now they are becoming videotapes or movies as other people join in,” Susan said.

Carol hopes it will continue to be such a forum after the reunion, especially with all the reunions and new memories that will be shared.

The internet (which was science fiction in 1974) also came in handy for a pop-up memorabilia shop that they set up in conjunction with Rickart’s of Peterborough so that people can attend these events, for example, with the appropriate T-shirt.

A number of visitors have chosen to stick around town for a few days, but they are delighted with the many and various activities the committee is planning.

Carol thinks the tour of Victoria Hall and the Art Gallery of Northumberland will be popular. Having closed in 1971, these alumni would not even have had the opportunity to enter that building during their CDCI East years – if it had occurred to them to want to do so.

The schedule calls for:

Thursday – Welcome party

Friday – Yoga on the beach, tour of Victoria Hall, golf outing at Cobourg Creek Golf Course, Pub Night at The Mill

Saturday – Yoga on the beach, tour of Cobourg Collegiate Institute, barbecue in Victoria Park, gala dinner and entertainment

Sunday – Safe Travels breakfast

They added to the fun by involving alumni in the actual events, like yoga leaders Lana Libke and Donna Todd.

Long-time friends Mike Petroff and Gord March, who have pursued musical careers of their own in Canmore, Alberta, will be the Pub Night entertainment in a venue with far more capacity than

The Chateau (which is no longer standing, but lives on in the memory of many alumni).

“The place will be rocking,” Susan declared.

Dennis King designed the logo on all their communications, and Paul Stacey is making a own musical contribution of his own. He asked alumni for ideas on their favourite songs from their high-school years, and put the top 100 together for a playlist that he will use to provide musical background at such moments as between sets during Pub Night and during the Welcome party.

And the school tour will include some hoops. Several alumni have expressed an interest, and their old basketball coach George Brackenberry (one of several teachers and administrators who will be present) will take them through some drills and oversee the action.

While Lighthouse and April Wine may not be available for Saturday night’s gala, there will be entertainment by an up-and-coming band called Trainwreck.

And for those who like a quieter celebration, there are features like the Memorabilia Room to be set up at the gala dinner, thanks to a committee member who has been working with the local archives to search out not only sports-related items but anything that would have meaning for a member of the Class of ’74.

They have left no stone unturned in making their events inclusive and welcoming for all. For example, those who prefer their cocktails non-alcoholic might enjoy a lovely red drink they have developed called the Comet – after all, their school team was the Comets, and their school colours were red and gold.

Alumnus Rick Stevenson’s company Stevenson Cartage is sponsoring Saturday’s barbecue so that all proceeds can be donated from the Class of ’74 to CCI’s Poverty Intervention Fund. And this is just one grad who has committed his company to sponsorships that make everything extra special (including Carol’s company, Expedia Cruises Peterborough).

And little extra surprise touches will be part of every event, like the post-yoga tray of sweets from Betty’s Tarts.

Betty’s is part of an extensive list of more than 40 sponsors – an amazing array of businesses from Breakers on the Lake and Best Western Plus to MacCoubrey Funeral Home and B+B Electric, from Cucina Urbana Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar to Custom Plastics and Lightcaster Brewery, from Staples to Metro, even CCI and the Town of Cobourg. Golf hole sponsors have come on board that include some old familiar names like Thomas Buick, Vandermeer Toyota and Kelly’s Homelike Inn.

When Carol began working on sponsorships, she found enthusiastic support, bringing in close to $16,000 in sponsorships that does not even take into account in-kind sponsorship and things like donated prizes. The result is that costs have been kept to a minimum for organizers and participants.

As the date approaches, Susan is anticipating the event will have a feel of “friends hosting friends – reconnecting with people, renewing friendships, a spirit of welcoming and community, making it as easy as we can for those who want to attend.”

This milestone should be shared, she added – a coming together while everyone who wants to be together (and can make the arrangements) can enjoy this chance to meet for a happy occasion.

“We are all in our late 60s. The idea of time, I think, is taking different moods for us in a lot of different ways – with COVID as well,” she pondered.

“I am thrilled people are willing to take their precious time and clear their schedules. Everyone is busy in June, from proms to camping to weddings, and yet people are reserving for not one day but four days to come.”

The deadline to register is Friday, May 31. As some events have capacity limits, it’s best to get registered. The contact person for this (and for any questions) is Christine LaBrash Thompson (289-251-2625 or yoeast50@gmail.com).

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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