Niagara Gazette


June 12, 2013

BRADBERRY: Family reunion time -- let's party!


Niagara Gazette — But most successful family reunions are still, relatively speaking (pun intended), loosely assembled, unprofessionally planned gatherings with little strict structure; that may be what makes so many of them so successful.

Some are as simple as agreeing to meet at the same place, same date and time every year with your own picnic basket; whoever shows up, shows up, whoever doesn’t, doesn’t.

The reunions that I have attended over the past few years, including as a guest at other family’s reunions, all tend to follow the same general patterns, regardless of whether the families are African-American, Polish, Italian or, nowadays, any combination thereof.

Generally, in my experience, when the hosting family is in the South, the essential reunion takes place over a long holiday weekend, but may extend over one or more weeks, and includes a tour of the local cemeteries, old farm houses where great grandparents may have birthed a whole generation of ancestors, a huge fish fry and an all-day barbecue.

Local churches sometimes participate too, putting on special services, even sponsoring breakfasts and offering the blessings of the local pastors.

Typically, there is food, plenty of it, cooked the way we remember it; the way mom did it, or from our favorite local family-owned and operated restaurants; there is music, lots of music; our adolescent soundtracks, the music we, or our parents grew up on, the good stuff we all know (or think we know) the words to, and, of course, there are the memories, the stories, the legends …

Like many of us who have traveled or lived for any extended period of time outside of our hometowns have discovered, there is no place exactly like home, but that, sometimes, for many, “home” may be a good place to be “from,” a nice place to visit, but no longer a great place to live.

Real Niagarans love to party; maybe it’s time to seriously think about and plan one gigantic annual homecoming/reunion for everyone who left Niagara Falls to come back home and get reacquainted with all the good friends and family they left behind.

Why not?

Contact Bill Bradberry at

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