There were plenty of stories swapped on Jackson Street Saturday night as a crowd estimated at 4,000 converged in downtown Anoka for the first Anoka High School all-class reunion.
Alumni dating back to the class of 1938 showed up to reconnect with old friends and classmates in the midst of Anoka Halloween festivities.
“It was even better than we ever could have expected,” said Ross Omdahl, class of 1972 and one of the four people on the organizing committee. He was approached by Pam Westlie, class of 1971, about doing an all-school reunion. Westlie and her classmates had started a tradition of getting together on the day of Anoka Halloween’s Light up the Night Parade. They were joined by Buddy and Carol Hedberg on the organizing committee.
“I think that its the best thing that has happened,” said Omdahl after Saturday’s successful gathering.
There was an especially big showing from those who graduated in the 1970s and 1980s.
People started to show up at 5 p.m. to get their class year sticker, even though the reunion didn’t officially start until 8 p.m.
Omdahl said volunteers also sold 650 commemorative t-shirts at the tent between Serum’s and Courtside, the official headquarters for the reunion where the Anoka Lions Club served up beer and people were entertained by the band.
Ed Hoskins, class of 1975, still lives in Anoka. He headed for Jackson Street looking to reunite with old friends from high school.
“It has been fun running into people you haven’t seen in a long time,” he said. “Hopefully everybody gets along.”
Jeannie Stone, Karen Ziegler and Nancy Schmieder all graduated in 1978. They ran into each other on Jackson Street and were sharing laughs and photos of their families.
The last time their class got together was for a 20th reunion, held at Green Haven Golf Club more than a decade ago.
“This has been great, it’s a lot of fun,” said Stone. While waiting for the parade to start she had someone recognize her as a classmate and she knew he looked familiar, but couldn’t place his name.
“This is awesome,” said Schmieder, who now lives in Oak Grove. “What a great thing to do.”
Shelly Olson, Robin Johnson, Michael Broderick and Bryann Bochovich all gathered for a group photo to mark their fun moment of reminiscing while on Jackson Street.
Craig Torbenson, class of 1974, was looking to reconnect with old classmates. But he also thought a trip to reunion would help with the research he is doing for his book “Tornado Magic: A History of Anoka High School Sports.”
Torbenson is a geology professor at Wichita State University in Kansas, but has a great love of both sports and history.
“It’s really an encyclopedia of Anoka High School sports,” said Torbenson. “I got about a dozen, maybe a dozen and a half names to follow up with.
He has made several trips back to Minnesota over the past year to research the book, which in draft form already is a comprehensive look at sports through the history of the high school, as well as those who have played there.
Torbenson is still looking to talk with people who have multiple siblings or generations from one family who participated in high school sports. He also wants to learn more about Anoka athletes who excelled at the college or professional level.
“It was nice to reconnect and reminisce with the people I grew up with,” said Torbenson, who was raised on Seventh Lane in Anoka.
If you have information to share about Tornado athletics, Torbenson can be reached at email@example.com.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at firstname.lastname@example.org