Gibbs Class of 1968 celebrates coming of age

BY VALERIE B. WILLIAMS, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — The Gibbs High School Class of 1968, Incorporated threw a three-day birthday celebration, July 31–Aug. 2 for their baby boomers born in 1950.

All gala events were held at the Magnuson Marina Cove Resort, where rites of passage were confirmed. We have the right to Social Security, the right to be called a senior citizen, the right to be a member of the elite group of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the right to live each day to the fullest without explanation.

Classmates and guests ushered in the celebration with the theme of “’65 All The Way Live.”   A three by 10 foot brightly themed banner and colorful balloons greeted the guests.  Each evening guests were greeted by Sylvia Wells Moore, class president and the invocation given by Alvin Frazier, class chaplain.

There was no shortage of fun, fellowship and food as each night had its own theme.

Friday’s theme was “Throwback Friday” and many classmates turned back the hands of time when they showed up in hippie attire from the 60s.  How cool was that?  Bellbottom jeans, chevron psychedelic pants, colorful dashikis, afro puffs, afros, platform shoes and large hoop earrings were the order of the evening.

The line-up of entertainers included four sensational acts:

• The Sisters 5 (lead singer, Maxine Williams-Salter, background singers Ethel Robinson, Ponsina Rimes, Jeanette Albritton, Maryann Price) lip-synching to “Something He Can Feel” by En Vogue.

• Solstice, a new group (Valerie Williams, Pearl Chatman, Fredde Evans, Edna Barnes and Margie Scott) performed their interpretation of “Please Mr. Postman” by Mary Wells.

• Lip-sync group, Unchanged (Cecil Odom, lead, Johnny Edwards, Charles McNorton and George Lancaster) performed the Temptations memorable song “My Girl.”

• The main attraction of the evening was the big name act “One In A Million You” by Larry Graham, performed by Gordon Sellers from Atlanta, Ga., which he dedicated to his class.

Sellers’ performance garnished him a standing ovation, and all acts received an overwhelming applause. The evening was topped off by music from DJ Bland and guests dancing the night away Soul Train style.

A full service meal was served that included southern fried chicken and fish, baked chicken, fish, and ham, garden vegetables and green salad.

Saturday’s celebration was entitled “An Evening In Black & White.” As you can guess, black and white was the dress code. As guests arrived they marveled at how beautifully the ballroom had been transformed to a black and white wonderland full of balloons, lace accent table toppers, white floral candle arrangements with black accents and crystal vases on the accent serving tables. The night was full of surprises as the evening flowed.

Sellers wrote a poem that highlighted events that transpired in 1968.  Birthday guest were given a birthday gift of a 58-inch golf umbrella with the class logo, which was very appropriate for the rainy weekend. Each board member had an opportunity to share in the cutting of the birthday cakes, and special recognition was given to deceased classmates.

Everyone enjoyed chef-carved-to-order roast beef au jus, spiral ham, Chicken Marsala, fresh fruit, baked potatoes, yellow rice, garden vegetables and strawberry, pineapple and cream cheese pecan cakes. After dinner, guests put on their dancing shoes and danced to the sounds of DJ Ricky and Sam Brown. The room was filled with smiles and laughter as we looked forward to Sunday’s worship service.

“Praising God For Where He Has Brought Us From” was the theme for Sunday’s Praise and Worship Service. The worship experience message was rooted in Faith, Hope and Charity (Love) from I Corinthians 13. Faye Hines served as moderator.

Class members Barbara Jackson-Faith, Cecil Odom-Hope and Nancy Holcombe-Love,   all provided spiritual revelation. Yvonne Carr, soloist provided musical inspiration along with Elder Wayne Hilliard who served as our Praise Team Leader.

At the culmination of the worship program, this writer communicated the board’s unanimous decision for the class to pledge $500 annually to Gibbs Senior High School on behalf of the Gibbs Class of 1968, Inc. during their Spring Annual Scholarship Program.

The first pledge will be issued in this month to the athletic department. Subsequent pledges may be awarded to other school departments at the discretion of the board.

A “Sunday’s Best” meal of turkey, ham, fish, yams, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, corn bread, yellow rice and cake was served to the guest for their enjoyment.

When it was all said and done, after all the smiling, dancing, laughing, hugging, singing and talking, it was agreed that we are 65 and All The Way Live. After three days of birthday celebration we recognize being 65 has its perks and we have earned the rite of passage to seniorhood.

“To dance like no one’s watching, sing like no one’s listening, love like you have never been hurt, live as though heaven is on earth.”

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