Stevens Alumni Day 2020 & 2021 combined Celebration of the 149th and 150th years
October 2, 2021
WE DID IT!!! The Alumni Association’s 150th celebration was one to remember. The fall weather was chillier than that of the usual June warmth, but it didn’t dent the enthusiasm of the16 classes that showcased their floats to the enthusiastic audience along a new parade route. Because of a city project to repair and replace water lines on Pleasant Street, the parade route was rerouted. Dick Girard, parade chair, with the assistance of Pres. Doug LeBlanc and the Police Department determined the alternate route. Because the work continues on Pleasant Street, an alternate route may also be used in the upcoming 2022 parade.
Stepping off at Stevens, promptly at 10:30 a.m., the chain headed down Broad Street and took a right on to South St., to W. Pleasant St., to Summer St. where a left was taken, then a right onto Pearl St. and another right on to Central Street that led the train to Main Street and another right to the “Bullpen” and on to Broad Street for the return to our Alma Mater. It sounds like a bit of a hassle, but the participants said it was “A piece of cake.” A question as to where the spectators were going to park was far from a problem. They began arriving early as usual to claim a spot on this new route. The young children’s eyes lit up with anticipation as soon as the first drum roll was heard. They have learned that “you have to wave at a parade” as the floats, bands, and other units made their way through the streets of the city and were anxious to take part. The workmanship of the floats was wonderful as was the costuming of the participants. The camaraderie in design and imagination was apparent. Classmates had a great time welcoming the cheers from the sidelines as they made their way around the city.
Spectators from Claremont and surrounding towns began arriving mid-morning to find a perfect viewing spot, or if new to the event, to beat the next guy to the space they were going to claim. It was noted that more and more viewers are lining South Street for the ease in street parking. When making the corner at the South/Pleasant Street junction, the crowds thicken and the hype of the event became infectious. The small children were so excited which was noted by the big smiles and waving arms. That’s always warming!
Dick Girard, parade chair, along with the parade committee have had years of experience putting this parade together. They sure took on the task this year even though they weren’t too sure in the beginning when they decided on this new route. Dick has Carolyn LeBlanc’s expertise and continued responsibility of contacting and contracting the bands and other units: she is always looking for new and exciting units to join the parade.
Dick and his volunteer crew were out on Broad Street Friday evening lining each participant’s spot ensuring the Saturday morning placement of floats was a flawless step off at exactly 10:30 AM! Even the horse drawn carriage carrying a number of Alumni Officers heeds this rule and is ready to step out right on time. The SHS band, alumni officers, and older grads led the way for the array of floats and other musical and performing units that followed. It was a spectacular procession and well accepted by the cheering crowds along the route as the floats, musical and marching groups passed by. This event is one of the most anticipated and welcomed every year. Because of Covid the year prior, there was no parade. This year it came to life again, and was most exciting for not only the participants but the audience as well. We pray there will never again be a halt to one of the most meaningful traditions for Stevens Alumni as well as the City of Claremont and surrounding towns. This yearly SHS Alumni Parade had its beginning in June 1948 and has been one of the most anticipated and heartily welcomed events for the past 73 years but for the Covid hiccup last year. Can you even fathom how many SHS grads have been part of this extravaganza? Thank goodness it was brought to life again on October 2, 2021 and was most exciting not only for the participants, but the audience as well.
Because of the renovations on Pleasant Street, the reviewing stand was moved down the street from its usual place in front of the Pleasant Restaurant to the parking lot in front of The Tremont House of Pizza. It was an ideal spot for the Honorary Members and retired teachers to view and be viewed. They truly appreciate being a part of Alumni and the honor of being a part of the Reviewing Stand Committee and seeing past students now giving them high-fives. Their past students always recognize them and make themselves known with a shout and wave and are rewarded with the same from their former teachers.
Steve Smith, General Manager of the Newport-based radio station WCNL has introduced the entire lineup of floats and units for a number of years. He was extremely positive about the move for it gave him a perfect view of the oncoming units as they came up the Pleasant Street hill. It also allowed him to see each entry sooner and speak to the detail of each oncoming unit as he introduced the group to the general public and to those listening on their radios at home and in their cars along the route.
It was difficult to select but five trophy winners per each anniversary year of (2020 and 2021) for the workmanship and costuming of the grads representing these classes. They were exceptional and so deserving. The following classes were awarded trophies as well as $200 from these generous sponsors: LaValley Building Supply, Golden Cross Ambulance Service, The Insurance Center, Joe’s Family Car Care, Stringer Funeral Home & Crematorium, and The National Field Representatives. These businesses sponsored both classes of 2020 and 2021 float winners. The SHS Alumni Association appreciates their generosity. Here are the winners: The Alumni Memorial Trophy to the Classes of 1981 & 2011 – Sponsor: LaValley Building Supply; The Klara Hornick Trophy to Classes of 2005 & 2010; – Sponsor – Golden Cross Ambulance Service; The Wayne S. Gray Trophy to Classes of 1964 & 2001- Sponsor – Stringer Funeral Home and Crematorium; The Fred Carr School Spirit Trophy to Classes of 1971 & 2006 – Sponsor – National Field Representatives; The George Disnard Trophy to Classes of 1956 & 1961 – Sponsor – The Insurance Center & Joe’s Family Car Care; The Claremont Chamber of Commerce awarded their special trophy to the Class of 1971.
Tradition has it that the 25-year class has the privilege of selecting the parade marshal. This year the classes of 2020 and 2021 chose to honor Rick and Evie Plourde whom many of the grads had as teachers throughout their four years at Stevens. Rick taught Building Trades at both Stevens and SRVRTC and Evie specialized in the Home Economics areas at Stevens. They did their share of waving and talking to past students who recognized them and shouted their names and gave them high-fives for being selected to and the honor of, this distinction. Both Rick and Evie are also Stevens’ grads; both from the class of 1972.
The New England Patriot’s mascot, Pat, and one Patriot’s cheerleader had a great time. This walking group always autographs the mini posters they distribute while they mingle with the crowd of on-lookers and introduce themselves and do lots of shaking of extended hands.
This year brought a variety of marching units including the American Legion Post 29 well represented with a color guard, a rifle unit, a truck with flags from all branches of the military. They were followed by the American Legion Band from Brattleboro, Vt. The Yankee Doodle Legion Band from Rensselaer, NY followed preceded by the Bektash Legion of Honor. Other marching units were the Stevens High School Band, Claremont Jr. High School Band, The Sons of Italy Drum & Bugle Corps from Haverhill, MA, St. Andrews Pipe Band of Vermont, NHPA Pipe Band, Boston Windjammers, Colchester Continental Fife and Drum Corps, Firehouse 6 Dixieland Band, Backwoods AX Co. Band, and Catamount Pipe Band. The Civil War Hemlocks, and of course, Leapin’ Lena were part of the lineup.
The annual membership meeting followed the parade in the high school cafeteria and people were rewarded with a delightful buffet catered by Sonya Le Blanc Lawson with desserts from Uptown Bakery and Custom Cakes by Tami. Meeting agenda items included the election of officers for 2022. They are: President, Douglas LeBlanc ’63, 1st Vice President, Richard Girard ‘61, 2nd Vice President, Mary Picknell Woodman’61, Secretary, Janet Mower Eno ‘62, Ass’t. Secretary, Beverly Hanks Janelle ‘53 Treasurer, Carolyn Bowles LeBlanc ’62; Executive Board: Heather Girard ‘06, Sonya LeBlanc Lawson ’89. David Zerba ’63, Mark Chamberlain ‘81, and Denise Mozden Liveston ’70.
It was announced at the meeting that the entertainment scheduled for the Visitors Center outdoor grounds was changed to the American Legion on Broad Street. As the weather is cooler and the daylight shorter, it was more comfortable and enjoyable to be inside, sit down and relax; maybe even dance, or just sit and listen to the music of the Backwoods Ax Co. band and reminisce with old friends and classmates. You may have heard and seen the band on a flatbed truck in the parade. They have a great beat inside or out!
The Class of 1971, celebrating their 50th anniversary, gifted and presented a Commendation signed and sealed By His Excellency Christopher T. Sununu, Governor of the State of New Hampshire. This document acknowledges The150th Anniversary of Stevens High School Alumni Association being the oldest continuously active high school alumni association in the United States. In Testimony Whereof set his hand and caused the Seal of the State of New Hampshire to be affixed the 22nd day of September, 2021.
Gary Merchant and members of his class of ‘71worked with the Governor over this past year to have this special honor come to fruition and to be able to honor THE SHS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION on its 150th Reunion Celebration. The Commendation document can now be viewed at the SHS Alumni Office on 50 West Pleasant Street in Claremont. The Association accepts this honor and extends many thanks to the class for such a meaningful gift.
The 2022’s Alumni Weekend theme was selected from a group of five contenders submitted by alumni and is:
Those Were the Days My Friend.
Please let us know if you have an idea for a theme to add to the list for 2023.
We look forward to the 151st year celebration of the Oldest Active High School Alumni Association in the country – Stevens High Alumni Association!
This year’s Alumni Weekend will be take place on June 11, 2022. Look for any and all news on the alumni website or Facebook page and keep abreast of all the happenings month by month.