ST. PETERSBURG – The Gibbs Class of 1968, Inc. held their 47th Holiday Extravaganza Saturday, Dec. 26, at the historic Coliseum in downtown St. Pete. More than 1,000 people celebrated the holidays with family, old friends, and not-so-old friends.
“Our little kids were saying, ‘we don’t want to attend those old people things.’ Now they beat us here. It’s really like a family affair,” said Class President Sylvia Wells Moore.
The year 1968 was a turbulent time in America’s history. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy were both assassinated, setting off a string of riots and protests, but for the few graduates that met at Moore’s parent’s home that December, it was nothing but good times.
“It’s a tradition. We’ve been doing this since graduating high school,” explained Moore.
Even though their tassels had just been moved from right to left a few months earlier, Moore thought it would be fun during the holidays for those who went away to college or to the armed services to get together with friends who stayed at home.
As the crowds got larger, they moved it from Moore’s parent’s home to different venues around the city and eventually landed at the National Guard Armory on 38th Avenue South.
“We thought we were the bomb,” said Moore. “But then it got so big…we decided to step out on faith and went to the Coliseum.”
Since 1993, the Class of 1968 has been dancing the night away at the Coliseum with generations of partygoers lining the dance floor. From children to parents to grandparents, everyone was dressed to the nines and showing off and out.
“It’s an extravaganza, but it’s really like a reunion for all those who make time to come back for the Christmas holidays,” she said.
All are welcomed to the city’s largest class reunion, and with it only being $25 a head, you can’t afford not to go!
“We know we could sell tickets higher, but we want the community to know that we love to have them come and be a part of us,” said Moore, who has been class president for more than 20 years.
With the proceeds from ticket sales, the Class of 1968, Inc. turns around and gives the money right back to the community. They donate to worthy causes and organizations such as the Sickle Cell Disease Association, and when a classmate is sick or passes away, they make sure their families are not forgotten.
However, most of the proceeds go to their annual scholarship awards program at the Enoch Davis Center. Any deserving senior who has maintained a 2.5-grade point average and has an accredited letter of acceptance to a four-year college or technical school is eligible.
The Class of 1968’s board members are there to do one thing: serve the community. Throughout the years, Valerie B. Williams has been the secretary, editor, public relations person and even treasurer. She said that whatever a person’s skillsets are, they step up to that position in order to bless the class.
“I don’t care if I graduated from Eckerd College and you graduated from FAMU or Bethune Cookman, when we come together as a board, all of those titles and whatever you might bring with you is dropped at the door,” said Williams. “The same people have been together on the board year after year.”
Williams would like to thank the community for supporting their efforts to give back to the community.
“Our motto is: To whom much is given, much is required,” she said. “We’ve been so blessed and highly favored that we have to be a blessing to somebody else. We just pay it forward.”
Moore echoed those sentiments when she said, “We humbly appreciate the community for supporting us through all these years. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing our success with us and for making us successful.”