07/03/11 — Southern Wayne alumni enjoy second reunion

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Southern Wayne alumni enjoy second reunion

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 3, 2011 1:50 AM

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Westbrook Park in Mount Olive became the place to be for the Southern Wayne High School reunion Saturday afternoon.

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Reginald McKinney, class of 1985, prepares chicken at Westbrook Park in Mount Olive during the Southern Wayne High School alumni picnic.

There were clouds of smoke and the thick scent of warm barbecue sauce wafting throughout Westwood Park in Mount Olive Saturday, but not necessarily because of the marinade on the three dozen chicken wings Reginald McKinney was grilling.

The sauce was simmering on the hot pavement where McKinney, a member of the Southern Wayne class of '85, had spilled it.

"Man, it was crankin'," he said of the spicy sauce, which had sat overnight in preparation for the Southern Wayne Alumni Picnic.

But there was no sense in crying over spilled sauce, and McKinney said he would just make some more, though it would be slightly milder than the original.

Such was the jovial atmosphere at the alumni picnic, where classes old and new joined to reminisce, reconnect and, of course, eat.

McKinney was honored the night before with an award for his contribution to the Saints athletic program. McKinney played a season in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and still holds the Southern Wayne school record for rushing yards in a single season.

And though his award, which he received during Friday's alumni basketball game against Goldsboro High's alumni team, was a reason to attend this weekend's activities, McKinney said he was living his passion by standing behind the grill.

"I do a little catering on the side," he said. "It's a hobby. I'm happy when I'm cooking."

For the class of '94, though, the weekend was just another excuse to hang out with classmates.

Candias Kornegay and her friends Crystal Daniels and Kim Fredrick sat beneath a picnic shelter at the park where a banner hung indicating their class was gathered there.

"It's really good to see everybody come together. It's a brilliant idea," she said of the alumni picnic, which is in its second year. "Life is too short to wait five to 10 years to see each other."

Ms. Fredrick, who lives in Raleigh, said the picnic was a great reason to come back home and visit her "extended family."

"It's always good to know you're supported," she said, noting that her classmates keep in touch through Facebook and other gatherings throughout the year.

Ms. Daniels, who is on the alumni picnic's committee, said seeing the weekend come together was a great reward for work that has spanned almost a year.

"It's good to see the fruits of your labor," she said.

And that labor will begin again soon, Clara Coley, another committee member and member of the class of '89, said. She said meetings to plan next year's picnic will begin later this month.

This weekend's festivities will conclude with a Gospel Fest concert today at 3 p.m. at Southern Wayne.