Is Facebook cutting demand for high school reunions?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For the 50-year reunion of the Sacramento High School Class of 1962, organizer Tricia Brown had big plans: cocktail hour followed by a buffet in a Woodlake Hotel Sacramento ballroom decorated in purple and white, the school colors.
“I see the reunion as a walk down memory lane,” said Brown, 67, a retired elementary teacher. “It’s fun to see people who knew you then.”
She has a Facebook account, which she uses mainly to keep up with relatives out of state — but she can’t imagine why anyone would prefer seeing classmates online instead of in person at a reunion. Frankly, the idea bewilders her.
“You wouldn’t go to the reunion because of that,” she said.
That’s exactly the fear of people planning high school reunions: In an age of soaring social media use, when people can reconnect with long-lost and perhaps faraway classmates through Facebook and other sites, has the time-honored tradition of the reunion seen better days?
Experts say that attendance at the 10-year high school reunion has dropped in recent years. In general, a good reunion attendance is 25 percent of the graduating class, said National Association of Reunion Managers President Cyndi Clamp. Now, in her own St. Louis-based business, Varsity Reunions, the average number of attendees has dropped below 20 percent.
Shari Sigl, 43, said she’s seen evidence of the Facebook effect among her classmates. Sigl is helping organize the Foothill High School Class of 1987 reunion in August.
“Because of Facebook, I see people interested in the reunion now who haven’t been before,” Sigl said.
“I’m not sure that makes them want to come to the reunion,” she added. “People are already in touch. Why pay money for it?”