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Plans being finalized for the Golden Reunion at Connellsville's East Park

| Sunday, May 12, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

The second annual Golden Reunion will be held May 26 at East Park for graduates or those who attended high school at Connellsville, Dunbar, Geibel Catholic or Immaculate Conception.

More than 100 graduates attended the first Golden Reunion last year. Many of those people have sent in their reservations for this year's event.

“I hope to see those who were there at the first Golden Reunion and many more that were not able to make it last year. The Memorial Day weekend seemed to work well, so we are keeping the date every May so that folks will make it a special event that they look forward to year after year,” said Corrine Shields, who helped gather the names of thousands of graduates for the first Golden Reunion.

Bill Ambrisco, a 1948 Connellsville High School graduate, traveled from his home in Iowa City, Iowa, with his wife, Carly, for the first Golden Reunion. The couple will be back again this year.

“I heartily encourage my fellow classmates to come to the Golden Reunion. My wife has been back to every reunion with me. We had a wonderful time at the first Golden Reunion last spring,” said Ambrisco. “East Park is a very nice venue for it. You don't realize how nice it is until you're there. There couldn't be a better place to hold it than right there in old East Park. It was lovely. We really enjoyed ourselves.”

While Ambrisco enjoyed spending time with classmate Audrey Cavanaugh Crislip, he said his class of 1948 was not well represented and he was a little disappointed.

This year, Ambrisco said he is looking forward to seeing the new model railroad building on Crawford Avenue and other improvements in Connellsville.

“The Golden Reunion was fun, and I felt it was a big success. East Park continues to fascinate me. Those who attend will be able to see the restoration of the castle. I believe there will be some formal dedication of it during or after the reunion,” said Larry Buttermore, a 1961 alumnus of Connellsville High School. “Also, last year we celebrated the restoration of the pillars by the bridge. We planted a perennial garden there — hostas, ferns and other perennials. Anyone who would want could bring a new shade seeking plant and set it in place, so that the garden will get better each year.”

Buttermore is the author of “Switch Hitters,” which uses East Park as a setting.

He said Jack Trump has finished the restoration project on the tennis court at East Park. Trump raised funds for it, said Buttermore.

“I believe that dedication will also take place at the reunion. He put a nice bench in place in the memory of Emmitt Hicks. He also put up a new net and power washed the courts,” said Buttermore.

“Anyone who would have a viable project for the future revitalization of East Park should bring their ideas. The area below the first falls would look so much better and expose the beauty of the falls if it were cleared out. I would love it if people would bring pictures taken at the playgrounds and parks during their childhood. Sharing those would make the true reunion spirit. I can't wait to come for the Golden Reunion,” said Buttermore, who lives in Westerville, Ohio.

Lou Durbin, who graduated from Connellsville High, living then on Fairview Avenue and now in Pittsburgh, came to the Golden Reunion last year and had two surprises. He became the golf cart driver for those who needed transportation from the parking area into East Park, and he rekindled a long-ago romance.

“I'll definitely be therefor the Golden Reunion. Toni (DeMarco Schiavoni, Connellsville High class of 1957) will also be attending. She and I dated for two and a half years when she was in high school, and then we went our separate ways, and both of us married and raised families as the years passed. We never saw each other until, guess what, the Golden Reunion. We ran into each other there last year, and now, as they say, we are an item. We've been having a lot of fun since then,” Durbin said.

“I also got to see a lot of other people there that I hadn't seen in a long time. I really had a good time. So this year we'll both be there and are looking forward to seeing others that we haven't been in touch with over the years,” he added.

The Golden Reunion is a Fayette County Cultural Trust-sponsored event.

The trust makes arrangements for the catered lunch by Miller's Catering of Connellsville. Sharon and Gordon Miller also own The Italian Oven. The food will once again be enjoyed while listening and dancing to The Wally Gingers Orchestra also returning to the Golden Reunion. The hours are noon to 4 p.m. The cost per person is $25.

“Cokers, Falcons, Gators, Mules and Owls are all welcome at the Golden Reunion,” said Michael Edwards, president of the trust.

Reservations must be paid in advance by May 22. Forms are available in the entrance of ArtWorks at 139 W. Crawford Ave. in Connellsville and online at

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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