05/30/10 — Spirit, fellowship highlight Central-Eastern Wayne gathering

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Spirit, fellowship highlight Central-Eastern Wayne gathering

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 30, 2010 1:50 AM

In 1975, Gwen Scott "went off to college and never came back to (Wayne County) to live."

But that didn't stop the Chicago resident from making her way home for the Central High School-Eastern Wayne High School reunion this weekend.

"I just love it," she said, standing in front the float that would carry her and other members of her class along the short parade route that traditionally begins at Eastern Wayne Middle School. "It's always great."

Fellow 1975 graduate Sheila Durham agreed.

But unlike Ms. Scott, she remained in the area since turning her tassel.

So for her, Saturday was simply another day in the company of people she has continued to grow up with -- albeit a special one.

"We've been friends forever, and some of us still go to church together, too," she said, looking over at Linda Sutton. "The unity and the love just brings us back."

To passersby, it might have seemed like a simple parade -- complete with an enthusiastic marching band, dance team, current and aspiring politicians and "princesses" from across the county.

But for a group of little girls -- 9-year-old Tyjana Armstrong, 9-year-old Daaja Boyette and 12-year-old Juanneshia Armstrong -- it meant so much more.

They were, after all, charged with leading the procession -- and making sure the banner they were holding stayed straight.

So with smiles on their faces, they made their way out of the Eastern Wayne parking lot and onto the road.

Elwood Croom was not far behind them.

He and other members of the Epicurean Civic Club -- an organization known for singling out, and working to eliminate, hardship in the community.

But when they are not hosting Easter egg hunts for underprivileged children or picnics for the elderly, they get out into the county, hoping to spread word of their mission, like at the parade, through exposure.

As the cars and floats began to roll by, the Eastern Wayne Marching Warriors waited for their cue.

They had been at the school since long before noon, drawing cheers, bobbing heads and dancing from onlookers.

"These kids are great," said Sammy Wilkins, who had no connection to Central or Eastern Wayne, but stopped to take in the band's performance. "I was driving by with the window down and thought, 'It's a beautiful day. Just stop and feel the music."

But in the end, Saturday's parade was just a small part of a weekend celebration meant to bring old friends back together -- for embraces, stories shared and a few laughs.

"Just catching up and fellowshipping and remembering old times," said Sandra Spruill. "And the food. That's why we're here."

The reunion weekend will conclude today as Billie R. Whitfield of the Central High Class of 1950 will speak during the awards and gospel program set for 5 p.m. at Woods Chapel Free Will Baptist Church.