St. Augustine '16
Our reunion this year was graciously hosted by Jim & Diane Grundy
Fifty-four reunion attendees started gathering in the Hilton Bayfront lobby on Monday afternoon to renew old friendships and enjoy the Hilton bar. Groups peeled off for dinner at several local restaurants. More people came in on Tuesday, joining the festivities. Our "Meet and Greet" was held that evening in the Hilton function room.
Wednesday morning (very early for some!!) brought an Old Town Trolley ride to the fort (Castillo de San Marcos) and a guided tour of the fort. Following the tour, we re-boarded the trolley for a narrated tour of St. Augustine, then a large group opted to tour the St. Augustine Distillery with a tasting to follow. The others went on to the St. Augustine Winery for a tour and tasting there. We then gathered for lunch and drinks on the third floor of the winery, overlooking the city. As we were munching on our lunch, a Spanish Conquistador came out to tell us all about the settling of St. Augustine. He had us all rooting for one of Ponce de Leon’s men, Menendez, and his fight with the French who had also tried to claim the area. It was a lively lunch … "Viva Menendez" and "Eeeyew to the French".!
Thursday morning (early, again!), we boarded the Trolley and made a leisurely trip to Flagler College, where we were split into two groups for guided tours of the college led by students. Flagler College was originally built as the luxury Flagler Hotel in 1888; abandoned and later converted into the college in the late 1960’s.
Following the tour, groups broke up into further sightseeing; many checked out the Lightner Museum, then lunched at Cafe Alcazar, previously an indoor swimming pool.
Thursday afternoon we boarded the Victory III for a cruise on the Matanzas River, also part of the International Coastal Waterway. Along with the beautiful scenery, we also saw damaged docks and boats from Hurricane Matthew. That evening we closed the reunion with fun-filled dinner at the Columbia Restaurant, well known for its 1905 salad.
Our reunion was not impaired by the impact of Hurricane Matthewsince many of local St. Augustine businesses made Herculean efforts to completely restore their shops justtwo weeks after the hurricane. And, naturally, we had beautiful sunny Florida skies all week long!!
Traveling the farthest distance was Jenny Pickering ( Australia) followed by Annie Gaerke ( Germany). Wayne and Helen Brock along with Dave and Kathie Sherman maintained their perfect attendance record for all sixteen reunions.
We look forward to the Washington, DC. Reunion during October 12-16, 2017, hosted by Evelyn Ferro.