05/26/13 — Dillard/Goldsboro homecoming more like a family reunion

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Dillard/Goldsboro homecoming more like a family reunion

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on May 26, 2013 1:50 AM

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Judy Atkinson-Best of the Class of 1973 waves as she walks with her classmates in the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Parade.

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Joann Ward Lloyd was crowned the 2013 Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Homecoming Queen.

The Class of '83 and the Class of '63 may have both had sparkly floats and matching T-shirts during the annual Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Parade, but the members of the Class of '88, celebrating its 25th reunion, still proclaimed themselves "the best class in Goldsboro."

"We don't need no float to float in the parade," said Yvonne Edwards.

Mrs. Edwards' class all wore T-shirts with a large "88" printed on the back while they marched down Center Street, holding a banner and chanting during the 59th annual Dillard/Goldsboro reunion celebration.

"We just want to walk and enjoy each other," said class President Anjanette Reed.

In fact, frowning faces were a rarity as thousands of past Dillard and Goldsboro high school alumni -- most of them wearing Cougar memorabilia -- hollered back and forth, giving out hugs and handshakes in downtown Goldsboro Saturday morning.

"We're having a ball. This is the best time of the year for me," Mrs. Reed said.

The Class of '88 tries to have some sort of individual class reunion outside of the big reunion every year to stay connected to their old classmates.

This year, the class's 25th since graduating, Mrs. Reed is planning a double celebration, with Saturday's festivities acting as a kickoff event before their individual class reunion in September with a banquet, golf-outing and church service.

For those outside that Class of 1988, however, the larger Dillard/Goldsboro reunion celebration, was still the place to be this weekend.

"I don't know anybody who does this, and each year, it gets bigger and bigger. When my parents come in from D.C., they are amazed. You don't normally see this going on," Mrs. Reed said.

Closer to the end of the parade, the Class of '83 celebrated its 30-year reunion during the annual celebration. To show off their school spirit, the class rented a big sparkly blue float from Raleigh for members to ride on. Class President Phyllis James took center stage on an elevated bridge in the middle of the float.

She helped plan this year's celebration with individual events for the Class of '83 such as a meet-and-greet, a basketball game, a banquet and a family fun day -- a process that took two years to plan.

"It's just remembering our roots -- where we came from," Mrs. James said. "It's not just a class reunion, it's a family reunion.

"It's wonderful to see everybody."

The Class of '57 didn't have a large float, but its members did have a small flatbed trailer with a few folding chairs -- a pretty common sight at the parade.

"For the Class of '57, that's a pretty large float," said Larry Williams.

Beside Williams, Eddie Baker and John Britt also were members of the Class of '57. Their class originally had 212 members, but about one-fourth of their class has died over the intervening 56 years.

"We keep up with the other members and try to go to their funeral if possible," Baker said.

Like past reunion celebrations, the three men try to take advantage of as many events as possible. Britt said he enjoyed the Friday morning golf tournament, while Williams said he was looking forward to basketball later on in the weekend.

"I used to play many years ago," Williams said.

"He was the star," Britt said.

"I try to be here when the time comes every year. It's something to look forward to," Williams said.

Williams is from Alabama and makes the six-hour drive every year. And he isn't the only one to travel such distances for the annual event.

The Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni & Friends Inc. has chapters up and down the East Coast -- Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Atlanta.

"The out-of-towners use this as an annual vacation," said Atlanta chapter President Sedrick Dunson. "They know that Memorial Day weekend will always be their homecoming."

Dunson remained busy throughout the weekend trying to hit every event -- sports events, church services, picnics, evening dances, parties, meetings, tours and more -- to see the most people.

"This might be the first time you'll see someone in 25, 30, years," he said. "It's a big homecoming. I come home and check up on classmates."

But beside meeting old classmates, the annual celebration also has a philanthropic goal -- giving out scholarship money to local high school students who have college aspirations.

For example, the Class of '88 gave $500 this year collected from class dues. This is the first year they put the money together and in the future, they hope to give out more.

In comparison, the Class of '83 gave out $3,000 in scholarships. Altogether, the many classes gave out more than 60 scholarships to area high school students totaling more than $72,000.

"It's all in the spirit of giving back," Britt said.

"It's just a real good time," Dunson said. "I come to town with a smile on my face and leave with a bigger smile."