MORGAN PARK — The period between 1954 and 1979 is marked with monumental events and dramatic change throughout the country, including the civil rights movement, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, Watergate and more.
Students that graduated Morgan Park High School within this 25-year span are set to return to their alma mater and the surrounding neighborhood for a reunion on Oct. 17 and 18.
"We all have so much in common, and there's such a richness of experience," said Kristine Lang, the organizer of the two-day event.
Howard Ludwig says the ambitious event could bring together thousands of alums:
Empehi Reunion 2014 and Fundraiser begins with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 17 at the Beverly Arts Center. The galleries of the arts center at 2407 W. 111th St. in Morgan Park will feature the works of graduates from the era, Lang said.
She's also working to book several musicians that started at Morgan Park High School for a concert in the art center's 400-seat auditorium. Morgan Park High School's alumni include members of The Ides of March, The Buckinghams and The Cryin' Shames, Lang said.
Outside in the courtyard, several restaurateurs from the Beverly and Morgan Park area will serve food, including Fox's Pizza, DiCola's Seafood and Original Rainbow Cone.
The family that formerly owned Red's has also promised to be at the opening night reception. Morgan Park High School had an open lunch policy during this era and students would often cram into the nearby burger joint for a Double, Double — short for a double meat, double cheese burger, said Paula Everett, who's also helping coordinate the reunion.
The following day, alumni are invited back to the high school's campus at 1744 W Pryor Ave. for tours. Lang is planning a pep rally to celebrate the Mustangs' 1972 city football championship and 1976 state champion basketball team.
Barry Kirk, a filmmaker and 1969 graduate of Morgan Park High School, has volunteered to produce a short film using classmates' photos, slides and home movies. He plans to mashing them with snippets of historic events during the 25-year span. The movie screening will be held on Saturday in the high school auditorium.
That evening, a Canteen dinner dance will begin at 6 p.m. at 115 Bourbon Street in nearby Merrionette Park. The dance borrows its name from the sock hops once held at various churches throughout the neighborhood, Lang said.
A ticket to attend all three events costs $125. However, alumni can also choose participate on just one or two events and pay separately, Lang said.
She's currently working to get the word out about the reunion via Facebook. Graduating classes during this span averaged about 1,500 students annually. Lang expects reunion attendance to top 800 alumni.
"This is an opportunity to see your friends, but also perhaps their older brother or sister, too," Lang said.
Money raised from the reunion will be used to upgrade the high school auditorium's sound system.
Lang has been planning this event since October 2012. She has about 10 people on the organizing committee, but more hands are needed. She's also looking for corporate sponsors to help defray the cost of the reunion.
"If everyone comes together, it could be amazing," she said.
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