Weekend Ticket: Port Arthur Alumni Picnic set for Saturday

Published 6:33 pm Thursday, July 16, 2015

Don’t worry if those jeans from high school don’t fit anymore. They were always too restricting to enjoy an old-fashioned rib cook-off anyway.

“Shocker” Shawn Johnson, a 1990 graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School, said it’s time for a less judgmental high school reunion — one that takes Port Arthur alumni out of their old gymnasiums and puts everyone at ease by the water.

Weekend TicketThe second annual Port Arthur Alumni Picnic, scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday on Pleasure Island, is open to every graduate from all Port Arthur high schools — Lincoln, Jefferson, Austin, Bishop Byrne and Memorial.

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“The Port Arthur Alumni Picnic is all about getting together with old friends and making new memories to add to those old, dusty ones,” Johnson said, laughing, Thursday. “This is a family day, with events planned for alumni of all ages and for the little kids still in school — or who haven’t started yet.

“There isn’t a set address, because it’s all over Pleasure Island. As soon as you cross that bridge, you’ll find it. If you have trouble, roll the window down and see if you can smell the barbecue cooking.”

Johnson — one of three coordinators for the massive picnic — said events include a barbecue rib cook-off, live music by Jarvis Jacob and the Southern Gents, sack races and a bounce machine for the smaller children, and of course, a competition for which graduating class can get the most alumni in attendance.

“We’re trying to get their cell phones out of their hands for a second,” Johnson said, laughing. “Let’s give them something else to do besides Snapchat and Facebook. We’ve got trophies for different events people can join, but if they’d rather have a more relaxed day, everyone is welcome to bring their own barbecue pits and get those ribs going.

“We’re basing this off of the Greeknic in Atlanta, Ga.,” Johnson said. “In Atlanta, all the sororities and fraternities get together for this huge picnic every year — it’s just a blowout with everyone having a good time. We set up a Go Fund Me page this year to help make our event more elaborate.”

Johnson said he and the other coordinators are expecting 3,000 people this year — double the attendance from the 2014 picnic — based on the event’s T-shirt sales.

“We’ve made shirts for each year of each school, and we’ll continue printing shirts after the event for anyone who wants to order one for next year,” he said. “We’re going to keep the style of the the shirts the same so that people don’t have to buy a new one every year. They’re welcome to if they want to have extras, but we don’t want to force people to spend their dollars on a new shirt each time.”

To order a T-shirt for any Port Arthur school’s graduating class, call Johnson at (832) 492-9225 or email shockershawn@gmail.com.