Winter Haven High School Ebony Class of 1971 Celebrates 50th Anniversary with October Fun Fest
by James Coulter
50 years ago, the Ebony Class of 1971 graduated from Winter Haven Senior High School. 50 years later, they celebrated the anniversary of their graduation with October Fun Fest at Lake Maude Park.
The public event allowed attendees to enjoy food, music, fun, and games provided by various local businesses and organizations. Amenities included arts and crafts vendors, live music, food trucks, haircuts, nail artists, chair massages, and demonstrations by police, fire, rescue, and crime prevention. For only $1, attendees over the age of three were able to buy a wristband to participate in the events activities. Proceeds went towards the Jewett Alumni Scholarship Fund.
Despite other events occurring that same day within the city, the overall beautiful weather provided for a decent turnout that more than met initial expectations, explained Harvey Green, Class President.
“It feels good,” he said. “I wish that more of our classmates had attended. There is a lot of us still in the City of Winter Haven. Sometimes people get a little older and do not want to get involved, but we have a core group that is always together and we enjoy it.”
Proceeds from the event will go towards the Jewett Alumni Scholarship Fund, which has ensured that local students are able to obtain a quality education. Many of these students have gone on to attend Florida State University and Florida A&M University.
This year, the scholarship fund was able to give $22,000 in scholarships. Last year, they were able to provide far more with $30,000. Shirley Dewdney, coordinator of the Ebony Class of 1971, hopes that the proceeds they raise this year will be able to provide even more scholarships.
For her, being able to graduate from Winter Haven Senior High School was a big accomplishment in and of itself. Many of her fellow graduates have remained in the community and made great things of themselves. Some of them were unable to make it to their celebration that afternoon. At 31 of their former classmates are deceased. So being able to celebrate and enjoy life on their behalf was a good enough honor.
“The turnout is going good thus far,” she said. “We expect more people, and many more will come by the end of the day…We look forward to doing this again next year.”
Attending that afternoon were several dozen local businesses and organizations, who served as vendors to promote their merchandise and services to the local community. One of these organizations was Reliance Medical Centers, a local non-profit organization that provides quality senior-focused primary care practice in Winter Haven and Lakeland.
Currently, Reliance Medical Center is accepting new patients. They participated within the October Fall Fest to promote their services and support the community.
“I think it is great,” said Eva Gulley. “It is a great event on this beautiful day. We offer what healthcare should be and promoting good health for the seniors in Polk County.”