Saturday night Anoka High School alumni will be flooding Jackson Street for the school’s first all-class reunion.
Organizers are expecting 3,000 to 5,000 people to converge in downtown Anoka following Anoka Halloween’s Oct. 20 Light up the Night Parade.
Ross Omdahl, one of the reunion’s organizers, has heard from alumni dating back as far as the class of 1941 who are planning to attend along with people coming from out of state and as far as Puerto Rico and Canada.
“We’re looking at this to be the biggest all class reunion in Minnesota history,” said Omdahl, a member of the class of 1972, who recently retired after a long career with the school district where he worked as a custodian at Sandburg Middle School.
He was approached by Pam Westlie, whose classmates from 1971 have a tradition of getting together on the day of Anoka Halloween’s Light up the Night parade. She suggested the gathering could be expanded and Omdahl was on board with the idea. The four-member organizing committee also includes Buddy and Carol Hedberg.
All 37,000 graduates from Anoka High School’s history are invited to the all-class reunion, which runs from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The city of Anoka last month expanded the street closure for the reunion, which had originally been confined to Jackson Street between First and Third avenues, to also include First and Second avenues between Main Street and Jackson, along with the City Hall Plaza. This is the same footprint used at the annual Anoka Riverfest.
Streets in this area will be posted no parking Saturday and will close mid afternoon for reunion set up.
Along Jackson Street there will be gathering stations divided into five-year blocks for all the classes dating back to 1960.
“I think the format and the way things are set up this should be a really fun night for everybody, sort of like a carnival,” said Omdahl.
There will be food vendors available nearby, along with Anoka Halloween’s Fired up for Fun bonfire on Second Avenue behind city hall, which begins once the 7 p.m. parade ends.
Capt. Scott Nolan of the Anoka Police Department said the city is planning for extra patrol of the downtown area.
Nolan said alcohol will not be allowed on the streets in the area of the reunion. Alcohol consumption is confined to the bars as well as the tent next to Serum’s where the Anoka Lions will be serving up beer.
The tent will also be the reunion headquarters, where participants can register and get a badge to show their class year. Class years prior to 1960 will also gather in this heated area.
Reunion T-shirts have been selling fast at the Anoka Sport Shack and Chamber of Commerce office. If organizers run out on the night of the reunion, attendees will be able to pre-purchase shirts that will go through a second printing.
The reunion committee will be hosting free drawings on the hour and inside the tent there will be live music from The Rina Haus Trio.
The walk down memory lane will continue Sunday when the Sandburg Education Center, Anoka Middle School for the Arts (Fred Moore Campus) and Anoka High School will all be open for tours from noon to 2 p.m.
Omdahl said retired staff will be on hand at the high school to greet alumni, and Principal Mike Farley has organized a group of students to give tours.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]