St. Petersburg –Shai’robia Witchard started a Facebook page in May to reach out to family members in New York, Illinois, Kentucky and Georgia to plan her first family reunion.
“A lot of people were very excited about it since we hadn’t had one in a while,” said Shai’robia, who admitted she had never been to a family reunion.
As the younger family members began to contact her on the family page, she still needed help to reach out to her grandmother’s generation. Help arrived from Chicago family member Mark Shabazz who teamed up with Shai’robia to contact as many elders of the family as possible.
The family reunion was originally slated to be held at Lake Vista Park this past Saturday, but after Hurricane Hermine dumped so many inches of water on the area, Shai’robia had to find a dryer venue for the reunion, and the Uhuru House located on 18th Avenue South was all too accommodating.
“It’s 14 of us, eight boys and six girls,” said Julia Witchard, the grandaunt and sister to Shai’robia’s grandmother. The youngest child, Dan Witchard, is 48 years old, and the elder child is 69 years old, Mary Jones.
“I grew up right here on 9th Street in St. Pete,” said Rose Boynton, Shai’robia’s grandmother. Boynton’s sister Julia grew up in St. Pete and Orlando.
The Kentucky faction with two dozen or more family members arrived in two groups. Family members also arrived from Atlanta, other parts of Florida and from around the country. The younger family members sat around a huge poster drawing area where they wrote messages and drew pictures.
After family grace, people lined up for a feast consisting of fried fish, chicken, ribs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, greens, string beans and white potatoes and green and brown cupcakes that were arranged in the form of a family tree.
“I worked to put this together,” said Shai’robia, glowing proudly as she pointed out her creative handy work.
The preparation of bringing together family members from across the United States for a huge dinner on Saturday and a church service on Sunday left Shai’robia exhausted, but she admits she’s looking forward to the next reunion…but probably not all the hard work.