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Two 20-Year Reunions, One With Drink, One Without

June 3, 1988

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Members of the Fletcher High School Class of 1968 can have their choice of 20th reunions - with or without alcohol - but the celebration with liquor is attracting far more graduates, organizers say.

The boozeless reunion, June 17-19, is being organized by John Wilder, 38, a salesman and Southern Baptist minister who says he is a former ″industrial- strength drinker.″

His get-together will feature a barbecue buffet, a ″dry″ pool party and a gospel sing.

The rival reunion being organized by Jessica Haft begins Aug. 19 at a hotel resort with a poolside cocktail mixer, a poolside picnic the next afternoon with a cash bar, followed by a dinner-dance that night at which alcohol also will be available.

Wilder, who said he drank steadily until 15 years ago when he ″climbed out of a bottle,″ wants the reunion to make a statement about the evils of alcohol.

″I personally would like to start a trend,″ said Wilder, of Middleburg. ″I just don’t want to be part of planning something where there’s any risk of anyone killing someone. I said if we’ve only got 20 sober people there, we’ll be of like mind and sober mind, and at least we won’t have to worry when we drive home at night.″

But Mrs. Haft, a 37-year-old Ponte Vedra Beach homemaker, said a high school reunion is not the place to make a statement about alcohol.

″I don’t think many people are interested in making a statement about alcohol at the reunion. They’re interested in seeing people,″ she said.

Drinking, she said, is an individual choice and she chooses not to drink.

″But that’s my business. I don’t try to tell other people how to live their lives.″

Claire Goodlow Brennan of Neptune Beach, a member of Mrs. Haft’s committee, said: ″I’ve never heard of a reunion without it. You can just say no if you want to.″

Mrs. Haft has located 273 of the 400 graduates. Wilder said he has contacted about 50.

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