The organizing committee for the Great Newtown Reunion, billed as an “all-classes inclusive” homecoming welcoming anyone ever involved with the local public or private school system, will be held on the campus of Fairfield Hills.
The site has already proven to be viable and accessible for events including a town arts festival, the town’s tercentennial celebration, the annual Relays For Life, and numerous other community events.
“After careful consideration for the safety and security of event attendees, the Great Newtown Reunion Committee is honored that town officials have granted permission for the event to be held at one of the most beautiful spots in all of Newtown,” the organizers stated in a release, referring to the facility’s soccer field area just north of the main gate entrance.
“The lovely Fairfield Hills Campus will be verdant and lush in late July, affording spectacular views and an easy to find central location,” according to committee co-chairs Sharon Dest Pacenka, Una Lucey, and Wendy Lee Hewitt.
Once advance tickets sales commence, sometime before or on May 12, organizers say they will review and announce vehicle parking options.
“The safety and security of Reunion attendees is of utmost importance in the planning of the event,” the release states. “The unique setting of the campus allows for all manner of safety equipment and security personnel to be present during the event.”
In relation to the anticipated on-sale date for tickets, committee members remind those looking forward to attending that, “The longer we delay in establishing a final ticket price, the more opportunities we have to attract corporate and local donors who can make a huge difference in the ultimate affordability of the event”.
Ms Hewitt told The Bee that ticket prices will roll back with each item, service, or dollar donated.
“We have a zero operating budget and at this time are completely dependent upon future ticket sales to pay for the tents, event insurance, security, law enforcement, traffic control, and even trash barrels.”
The committee is urging townspeople and all local alumni and educators who are or were involved in local public or private schools to review a sponsor/donor message that can be distributed at places of business, social and civic clubs, neighborhoods, etc.
The website address is greatnewtownreunion.org
Questions, Concerns Addressed
Committee members also took the opportunity to address or respond to questions or points being made on the reunion Facebook page or in e-mails to the committee:
*Projected attendance to the event has dictated that an indoor venue, within the boundaries of Newtown, is not possible. There are no suitable indoor facilities that can be utilized for the number of attendees expected.
*A very large, open-sided central tent design is currently being engineered. Town officials will play a key role in its design, ensuring structural soundness and safety. The arts festival and tercentennial events have hosted similar sized crowds under such a tent.
*Funds allowing, the main tent will shade a large portable dance floor and a sizable stage for entertainers who are expected to donate their talents that day.
*No tickets will be sold at the gate. Advance sales will allow organizers to ensure that all ticket holders have a seat and enough refreshments/food. Individual class organizers, who contact the committee in advance, can secure reserved seating for their respective classes.
*The committee is planning a two-phase daylong event with a family-style picnic during the day, and semiformal, adults only activity in the evening. There will be a single ticket price for the entire event — no separate day/evening ticketing.
*While alumni’s children are invited to attend the family picnic portion of the event, the committee would like to advise parents in advance that there will be no entertainment provided for the children.
“For safety and security reasons, children will be expected to remain under their parents’ supervision for the duration of their attendance,” organizers stated. “Additional costs for event insurance when separate children’s activities are covered would have resulted in higher ticket prices.”
(Nondairy) Desserts Welcome
The Newtown Health District of has advised that event attendees may not bring food into the venue. The only exceptions being specially prepared food for infants, toddlers, and persons with special needs. Baked goods for desserts are allowed, however, and encouraged except for desserts with a cream or custard/dairy base.
To help address rumors on social media, the organizers ask that alumni with questions, concerns, or comments to contact them via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Only information directly from reunion committee members may be considered accurate.
The idea for an all-inclusive community reunion came about shortly after 12/14 when hundreds of Newtown alumni flooded social media sites with posts, many consisting of “poignant reminisces of cherished years spent in the various Newtown schools,” the committee stated.
The organizers say that the common thread among Internet chats was the single pervasive urge they all shared: “We want to come home… we need to come home.”
Organizer Una Lucey summed up the reasons behind the need for just such a gathering: “There is a feeling you get when you learn that something horrible has happened to a loved one. In the aftermath of the event, you experience terrible anxiety about that loved one; and even knowing they have survived cannot dispel that anxious feeling until you actually see the person and can assure yourself that they will indeed, be all right.”
Ms Lucey believes many current and former Newtowners feel that way about the horrors of 12/14.
“We feel compelled to come home and to see for ourselves that Newtown will be okay, that our beloved hometown can and will carry on and the home we loved so much lives on,” she added. “I know many people who feel the same as I do. I hope to see each of them on July 27, and that as a group; we might begin to feel a sense of ease from the burden of grief we all carry.”