Planning a reunion for 10 classes' worth of alumni isn't easy.
There are venues and caterers to book. There are tickets to sell, commemorative memorabilia to order and DJs to hire. Organizers must obtain permits, and sometimes even insurance.
Then there is the necessary marketing campaign, where organizers labor to attract alumni to their event.
Recently, two local committees have worked to organize reunions for two decades' worth of Auburn High School graduates — one for alumni who graduated in the '80s, and another for alumni who graduated in the '90s.
And for the two committees, orchestrating a reunion diverged into two completely different rides.
Rain doesn't dampen the Auburn High School all-'80s group's spirits.
As half of the committee walked from an Owasco parking lot to the shelter of a Deauville Island pavilion, the group laughed, smiling as rain drummed on their umbrellas.
With just over two weeks left until the start of their reunion, Marcus Wilson, class of 1988, said there is plenty to smile about.
Looking back on the event's origins, Wilson said he and two of his fellow committee members decided to organize an all-'80s reunion while volunteering for Auburn High School's all '70s reunion last summer, encouraged by '70s alumni.
The committee — comprised of 13 alumni — started planning the large reunion last August with a preliminary meeting at Tinkers Guild, organizing a string of kickoff events and raffles to get their fellow graduates excited.
"We initially reached out to all the classes to have them give donations," Wilson said, explaining how the group created its monetary base.
The proposed reunion quickly and steadily gained steam. Along with earning nearly 2,000 likes on the event's Facebook page, Wilson said, many alumni participated in a fundraising meat raffle and lottery tree.
As of July 1, Wilson said about 500 people are currently registered for the reunion. Another 500 are expected to buy tickets the day of the event.
As the committee planned all the important details — reserving a day at Emerson Park's Deauville Island and Balloons Restaurant as a caterer — Cherie Clifford Cooper, class of 1983, said the group also worked to generate hype and awareness.
"We were in the Memorial Day parade in a T-top Camaro," she said.
As the event rapidly approaches, the all-'80s committee continues to hammer out exactly what attendees will do at the reunion.
Good food, affordable drinks and all the best '80s music are guaranteed.
"We have '80s prices on the drinks," Wilson said with a laugh.
The committee has organized a tour of Auburn High School, class pictures, a live performance by Chief Big Way and a dove release. A memorial bench honoring the lives of deceased '80s graduates will also be placed under a willow tree.
And attendees, Wilson hinted, can expect "a night filled with surprises."
But surprises aside, the committee agreed that their all-'80s reunion will be a wonderfully memorable event.
"It's about the the friendships that you had in high school," Cooper said, "And the friendships that you're about to make."
The three friends settled into Jessica Freeman's living room, their heads set on finalizing plans.
Wearing a T-shirt for the 1994 state tennis champions, Freeman shuffled a stack of papers and dived right into the business at hand. With the reunion only one month away, the '90s committee still only had 120 people registered to attend.
Looking at the still-low numbers, the Auburn woman sighed.
"We really thought there was going to be a couple thousand people," Freeman said. "Now, we're calling it our '90s picnic."
The planning for an all-'90s reunion, she explained, started last summer.
In June 2012, Auburn High School alumni held a reunion for all who graduated in the 1970s. The reunion was well-attended, well-received and widely enjoyed.
After witnessing that success, Freeman, class of 1995, started to dream of holding a reunion for her own generation.
"Everybody was buzzing about it," she said. "So I stupidly put on Facebook: 'Oh, we should do a '90s reunion.'"
At first, it seemed her fellow alumni agreed. A few days after Freeman created an exploratory Facebook page to gauge interest, more than 2,000 people had liked the event.
Joined by a team of 30 alumni, Freeman started to plan a reunion for 10 classes worth of graduates. The group — consisting of three members from each '90s class — met monthly, hammering out all the necessary details.
The committee's original expectations for attendance, once numbering in the thousands, were gradually dashed. Rick Prairie, class of 1994, said only 94 alumni, some joined by significant others, are currently registered to attend.
"The response has been really low," he said. "At this point, we could have it in my backyard."
Freeman agreed, lamenting the reunion's predicted low turnout.
"We went from a huge event to a picnic," she said. "I had more people at my wedding."
Prairie said he believes that although it's a great idea to bring together a decades worth of AHS graduates, the 90s group tried to hold a joint reunion too soon, citing the fact that his generation's alumni are in their 30s — only about 20 years out of high school.
"Our generation, we see each other," Prairie said, pointing to Facebook. "There's not a lot of people that truly end up relocating."
As hopes for a large party fizzled, so did did committee attendance. One year after the group was formed, that committee has dropped down to five alumni. Freeman said she and four of her friends are now organizing the event alone.
"It dwindled down," she said. "It's like pulling teeth."
But despite many disappointments, the '90s reunion committee has soldiered on.
After attending city council meetings, obtaining liability insurance and creating an evacuation plan, Freeman said the group opted to hold the reunion at the Belvedere Lounge instead of at Casey Park, and decided to have Downtown Deli cater instead of Kosta's Bar & Grill.
The families of attending alumni will receive complimentary tickets to an Auburn Doubledays game, while graduates will go home with T-shirts colored in accordance with their class.
And despite the low attendance, the '90s committee is certain that the alumni who do show up will have a great time.
"We're just going to play '90s music," Freeman said. "We're going to eat, we're going to drink and be merry."