For most the Fourth of July in Coronado is about the parade, the beach, the fireworks. But for those born and raised here, the singular event of the holiday is the All-Class Reunion. It’s held every July 3 and everyone who graduated from Coronado High School is welcome.
The tradition started in 1970 at the Mexican Village, then it moved to the Women’s Club. Nobody seems to remember exactly why it started.
Over the years it has “kind of has a life of its own,” CHS alum Dean Atkinson said.
Though he and many others singled Mary Sue Keces (Anderson) with keeping the tradition alive. Keces is one of the golf course concessionaires and a CHS alum. The All-Class has been held at the golf course for the past 17 years.
“This wouldn’t happen without Mary Sue,” Atkinson said.
Even though this is the 100th Anniversary of Coronado High School, no one at the event seemed to know or care that their alma mater was that old.
There were there for the music, the libations and a chance to catch up with long-lost classmates.
Alumni from out-of-town often combine it was an official class reunion be it tenth, twentieth or fiftieth.
Few people go every year. “It’s always a toss up whether I go or not and its always the last minute” CHS alum Joe Ditler said. “I don’t know why, because mostly I have a good time.”
The most regular attendees are local musicians who sit in with West Coast Iron Works (WCIW), CHS alum Dean Atkinson said.
It’s been the All-Class’s “unofficial house band” for decades, performing at most of the All-Class Reunions.
“We like include CHS alumni,” said to Rich Heinz of WCIW. Most of these are people who formed school bands in the 1960’s and 1970’s Bill Lyons, Bob Pickford or George Sanger.
This has lead to baby boom bias in the tunes played at the reunion, Atkinson admits.
“High school bands was more of a 70s thing,” he said.
Even thought the All-Class features music from a bygone era, graduates from this century attend in droves. They tend to arrive late in the evening after the old folks have headed home.
“It’s unique to Coronado,” Sue Runyon of the Coronado Schools Foundation (CSF) said.
For a few years CSF organized the event and it still benefits from the event.
“After each All-Class the Club House Bar and Grill sends a donation, Runyon said.
CSF added some features to the festivities to make the event special, Runyon said.
“We setup a photo both and had “No Class Reunion” T-shirts.”
Still its libations and music you can dance to that seems to keep the crowds coming. “The only time the kids rushed the stage is when we played Johnny Cash,” Heinz said. “When we played a rap song everyone disappeared.”
Above all it was a chance to see someone you hadn’t seen in forever.
“One of the nice things about the 4th is how it brings people from far and wide back together, and the all school reunion is part of that Coronado tradition,” said Casey Tanaka, Mayor of Coronado and CHS alum.
Mary Sue Keces and Mike Neil
Jim Newall, Class of 66 and Jim Newall, Class of 87 — Father and son at the All-Class Reunion
Mike Atkinson and John Crawford