10th reunion turnouts fall

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - November 28, 2008

But turnout for 10-year reunions is down, leading organizers to wonder if the so-called /*Facebook*/ Generation feels the need to meet up at hotels back home when they can reconnect online day or night.

"They're just not going to their reunions as much," said Wanda Diroll, who owns Creative Reunions in Torrance, Calif., and is also president of the National Association of Reunion Managers.

Professional reunion planners aim to get 30 percent of a graduating class at the gatherings. While 20-, 40- and 50-year reunions remain popular, at least four association members have stopped planning 10-year reunions altogether, Diroll said.

"We suspect it has something to do with them being in touch already through Facebook and other (social networking) sites," she said. "We're lucky to get 10 percent of the class at 10-year reunions."

In Hellertown, only 32 of 165 members, or less than 20 percent, of Saucon Valley High School's Class of 1998 have signed up for their reunion this weekend.

The economy may also be a factor, said Jonathan Miller, owner of Florida-based Reunited Inc. Professionally planned reunions can cost $100 to $120 per person, on top of airfare or other travel costs.

Attendance at 10-year reunions he plans fell by half in the past year, he said.

"The younger people don't have to wait five or 10 years to connect with a handful of their old best friends," Miller said. "They say, 'Let's go to Vegas together in March instead."'

Jennifer Schmell, president of Saucon Valley's Class of 1998, tried to keep reunion costs down by using free Internet invitations. The Olympus project manager has also been sending daily reminders to classmates to send in their $40 checks.

Jaye Ike is turning the Facebook trend upside down, in a sense. She created a Facebook page for Whitehall High School's 10th reunion this week and turned her former classmates into Facebook friends. She drove nine hours from West Virginia on Wednesday, giving up a Thanksgiving dinner with her husband and baby, to attend Friday's event.

"Rekindling those friendships made me want to go even more," she said.


Information from: The Morning Call, http://www.mcall.com

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