Reconnecting with old friends was the theme for the 22nd annual Clairton Reunion.
Held during Labor Day weekend, the event drew about 1,000 present and former city of Clairton residents from around the country.
“I come for the weekend because as we grow older, there are fewer and fewer picnics to come to and I want to get in as many as I can and I enjoy seeing friends,” said Ronald Scurry, from Raeford, N.C. but was born and raised in Clairton. He has attended the annual event for as long as he can remember.
|ORGANIZERS—Some of the organizers were Lamont Lewis, Juanita Horne and Emanuel Lewis.
Atlantic City resident William Booker said he decided to attend the Clairton reunion because it’s always good to come home.
“Everyone comes home for Labor Day weekend and everything is great. The people of Clairton serve the same God as the people in New Jersey.”
McKeesport resident Waliyyubbin Muhammad agrees with Booker.
“I love my people from Clairton. They are kind and friendly and hospitable. Clairton is a very close-knit community,” said Muhammad, who hails from Clairton.
According to Clairton reunion spokesman Welton Caldwell, the event, which was originally held during the last weekend in August, was the brainchild of a few members of the Clairton High School graduating class of 1965.
“Sharon Thompson said one day she missed everyone she graduated with and she wanted to find a way to get in touch with people,” Caldwell said. Thompson put together a successful dinner for her classmates. Word got around about the success of the dinner and other graduated classes began to join in the fun.
“Members of the class of 1965 made a mistake and told me and some other people and it quickly went from dinner with the gang to include anyone who has a connection with the city,” Caldwell said with a laugh.
Now the event, which is held during Labor Day weekend along with the Clairton Branch NAACP picnic, is one of annual must-attend events in Clairton.
The weekend includes a boat ride, a cabaret, church service at several of the city’s churches and a picnic at Clairton Park following church.
“We had a cabaret in the park this year because people were coming in for the weekend and with the way the economy is we wanted people to come and have a good time,” said Lamont Lewis, one of the Clairton reunion organizers. “This is probably one of the best weekends the city of Clairton has.”
The weekend ends with the yearly NAACP picnic on Labor Day, also held at Clairton Park.
“We get together because people may not be around next year. Originally we started in August but we realized that there were still people in town on Labor Day,” Caldwell said.
NAACP Vice President Richard Ford says the two events bring camaraderie to all the past and present residents of Clairton.
“It’s a wonderful thing. I love seeing the people come out,” Ford said.
According to NAACP spokeswoman Jacquelyn Wellington-Moore, the Clairton branch of the NAACP has been holding its annual picnic since 1953.
“We have an African-American president who talks about unity and coming together and this is the oldest organization and our goal is to raise awareness and our membership,” said Wellington-Moore.
The Clairton NAACP currently has 75 members.