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Pioneer Days: Looking forward, looking back

Morning, UP

July 16, 2011
RENEE?PRUSI ( , The Mining Journal

Negaunee's Pioneer Days was both a blast from the past and a look at the future.

The blast from the past was my class reunion. The Negaunee High School Class of 1976 gathered for two nights (and one day) of dancing, remembering and laughing.

We had a Class Night at Chappers Pub, which belongs to my classmate Gary Tresedder. That was an evening of renewal, I think, as we hugged, we chuckled and we danced to the music of the great acoustic band Hozz out on Chappers' patio.

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The next night was the reunion dinner at Pasqualis, immediately preceded by our class team's second game in the Negaunee Alumni Softball Tournament. How proud I am of those who took to the field as '76ers. We lost, 7-6, ironically, but the players still dazzled.

Once we all got to the dinner, it was another evening filled with laughter after a most excellent meal. Then many of us took to the dance floor, boogying to the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and Styx, music that transported us to another time.

We danced like we were 17 again. The next morning, some of us felt like we were 100, but oh, the fun it was.

Classmate Karen (Leaf) Wills put together a beautiful video with photos dating back to high school, going right through out last reunion five years ago, all set to our class song, "We May Never Pass This Way Again" by Seals & Crofts.

We sat for a class portrait and talked with one another for hours, finally ending up back at Chappers, gathered around a bonfire on the patio to close the evening.

Then finally, thanks to the creative mind of classmate Mary (St. Arnaud) Paulson and the labor of a bunch of other classmates, the NHS Class of 1976 had a float in the annual Pioneer Days parade. "Blast from the Past" was the float's theme to go with the Negaunee Irontown Association's choice for this year's parade theme saluting the fireworks crews through the years.

And it was a blast riding along the route, seeing the hundreds and hundreds who had gathered for the parade. The sun was hot but the experience was totally cool.

Afterward, we met up at Chappers for one last time, stepping outside to enjoy a special performance by the Blue Notes Drum and Bugle Corps right on Iron Street.

Throughout the events, I tried to take photos of the happenings to post on Facebook for those who were unable to make the reunion. But photos could not capture the essence of the reunion.

The Class of 1976 may have been put together because of the year of our birth, but we gather now because we truly formed bonds of friendship all those years ago. Looking around during the reunion activities, I was struck by how beautiful each person was in her or his own way.

Each becomes even more beautiful with the passing of time. We have overcome, triumphed, survived. That should be celebrated. We indeed may never pass this way again.

Thanks for the new memories, dear classmates.

As for the look into the future, that came in the form of my niece Marga's children, Maija and Jacob. Maija's almost 7 and Jacob just turned 5 and they added sparkle to my Pioneer Days with their visit from Rhode Island.

They are remarkable kids, funny, polite and most of all, big-hearted. They are a reflection of the time and patience their parents, Jim and Marga, give to them daily. Having the four of them stay with me during Marga's return home for the Negaunee Class of 1986 reunion was a glimpse into the future of my family.

It's a wonderful future with Maija and Jacob in it.

As you can tell my Pioneer Days vacation was special in every way, past and future meeting to bring me many smiles.

If only every vacation could be so sweet.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is



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