Something fun for everyone at Reunion 2022 Block Party

May 3, 2022 — An evening of food, live music, and friendly games and competition awaits Reunion 2022 attendees during the Reunion Block Party.

The new event, which is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. on Friday, June 3, will offer dozens of different free activities on Central Campus. 

“The idea is Reunion attendees can build their own night,” says Ashley Renstrom-Schaefer, an associate director of alumni and donor relations. “They can go to the food truck of their choice. They can participate in activities that they want to do. There’s something for everybody.”

Families enjoy playing with bubbles during Reunion 2019
Families enjoy playing with bubbles during Reunion 2019. There will be many family-friend activities to choose from during the Reunion 2022 Block Party.

There will be a variety of food selections from a diverse array of Iowa-based food trucks.

Trucks expected to be present include Caribbean Kitchen, Cottonwood Canyon, LaCalle, Karam’s Mediterranean Grill, Dari Barn, Outside Scoop, Sook's Korean, Veggie Thumper, Hawaiian Grill Food Truck, Scratch Cupcakes, and Off the Griddle. Reunion attendees will have wristbands with numbers that break off to exchange for main courses, side dishes, and desserts from the trucks of their choosing. 

Musical entertainment for the evening will be provided by two alumni bands. She Man and the Masters of the Universe will reunite for a highly anticipated performance from band members Rhonda Stuart ’86, Jonathan Letchinger ’87, Valesta Wiggins ’87, Christine Lawson ’87, Alex Watson ’87, Jim Asplund ’88, Will Kaylor ’87, Tim Black ’87, Kent Staley ’87, Byron Ricks ’87, and Andrew Hopson ’87. Attendees will also hear the music stylings of Loggia Patrol featuring Mark Butterman ’76, Mark Miller ’76, Scott Stanfield ’76, and Mac Stanfield ’86.

While COVID-19 numbers have declined in Iowa, Reunion organizers thought it still would not be prudent to have large numbers of alums eating class dinners in confined inside spaces. Thus, the two largest dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings will be outside. The All-Reunion picnic will shift from Friday to Saturday evening and the Block Party fills in on Friday evening. The Block Party will lead into class and cluster socials. The 55th Reunion, 60th Reunion, and 70th Reunion will still have class dinners on Friday evening. 

Alumni band play during the Reunion Party.
Live music during the June 3 Reunion Block Party will include performances from She Man and the Masters of the Universe and Loggia Patrol.

“With the pandemic, we’ve been given a lot of opportunities to rethink things,” says Jessica Stewart, senior associate director of alumni and donor relations. “This new event is modeled after a carnival or the state fair, which is really popular here in Iowa. It allows us to have intergenerational programming that I think people are hungry for. Given the limitations we have, we think this is a creative and innovative alternative.”

Block Party is one example of how Reunion 2022 may be a bit different than alums are used to at past reunions. Given a greater chance of unpredictable circumstances, flexibility will likely be a word uttered more often as the pandemic, weather, and staffing could affect plans. The carnival format provides flexibility and brings people together from different Reunion clusters.

Sarah Smith-Benanti, an assistant director of alumni and donor relations, says many alumni love sharing stories across the decades, learning how traditions were started or evolved, and finding that common bond that makes them all Grinnellians.

The Block Party itself is a catalyst for connections, Renstrom-Schaefer says.

“When people have an activity, they are more likely to interact instead of having to initiate a conversation,” she says. “It’s easy to play ring toss or have an Oreo eating contest and talk about it afterwards.”

Ring toss will be one of the many carnival games. Attendees also can partake in a bean bag toss, duck pond game, and play giant versions of Connect Four, Jenga, and Twister. There also will be yard checkers, hopscotch, bucketball, and Yard-zee.

Prizes will be on the line in several friendly competitions. In addition to the Oreo eating contest, there will be a jump rope competition, cornhole tournament, and giant paper airplane toss. 

The arts and crafts area will include a community art project, Grinnell coloring books, sidewalk chalk, and the ever-popular glitter truck, along with tattoos and glow sticks. Also on hand will be a magician, face painter, caricature artist, and fortune teller. 

“Whether you are 2 years old or 92 years old, there will be something going on that appeals to you,” Smith-Benanti says. 

— by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Online and phone registration for Reunion 2022 is now closed. Those wishing to register in person during Reunion weekend, can do so beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 2. Check out a preliminary schedule of Reunion events and see what alums have signed up to attend.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook page.