More than a hundred years ago, pioneers and longtime residents ofTempegathered for an impromptu potluck picnic, socializing with each other during the meal while sharing stories about their community, family and friends.
The reunion was so enjoyable that it caught on as an annual event, a celebration held for the 103rd time again this year by the Tempe Old Settlers Association.
To be eligible to attend, Old Settlers members must have been born inTempeor have lived in the city either currently or at some point for at least 30 years.
Tempe Vice Mayor Joel Navarro, who was born and raised inTempe, was among this year’s guests, as was southTemperesident and former city councilman Joe Spracale.
Both agreed that the event has become a great way for people to gather together and celebrate the city they call home.
“It’s a very nice, long afternoon of catching up,” Navarro said. “It’s residents sharing stories, and sitting around and socializing.”
One highlight of the annual Old Settlers reunion, said Navarro, is having the opportunity to see photos of whatTempeused to look like many decades ago.
“It’s just really neat the way people will bring pictures, and they’ll share the photos; some people have books of old pictures ofTempethat they’ll talk about.”
People come from all parts of the Valley to attend the yearly event, Navarro said, and many age groups are represented.
OnetimeTempecouncilman Spracale, who served 30-plus years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in theTempeSchool Districtbefore retiring, didn’t miss this year’s opportunity to renew old friendships and enjoy the camaraderie.
At 79, he may have retired but isn’t the least bit retiring when it comes telling old stories and hearing new ones.
As to Navarro, the food and fellowship were definitely a lot of fun, but the best part of the annual event was getting the chance to help keepTempehistory alive, especially for the younger generation.
“Hearing the perspective from the senior citizens is always really great, and for the younger age group, the stories help fill in the gaps for them about the history of our city,” he said.
“This event helps keep those stories going for years to come.”
For more information on the event and to keep tabs on the date and time of next year’s celebration, you can bookmark www.tempeoldsettlers.com .