Burb's Eye View: A wedding is hitched to a high school reunion

Saturday's nostalgia-fueled romp across the decades proved you may get older, but some people — and hairstyles — never change.

A reunion of hundreds overtook the grand ballroom of Castaway restaurant Saturday night, bringing together the collective graduating classes of Burroughs and Burbank high schools from the 1950s on.

While acoustic versions of hits like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Play that Funky Music" pounded out onto the dance floor, a couple who met in third grade more than 30 years ago flitted between friends and classmates who were largely unaware that their night would crescendo into a wedding ceremony.

This was the second year classes from Burbank's public high schools took over the Castaway; it began last year as an impromptu get-together arranged through Facebook. A group of grads — Randy Arrington, Joanne Miller and Roberta Reynolds — have formalized the joint event with a Burbank-Burroughs Alumni Assn.

But the event Saturday, also organized through Facebook, was led by Gilbert Tobon, Dennis Stirling, Toni Price, Kathie Christman Kallestad and Hortencia Diaz Abouaf.

If any interschool rivalry lingered, it took the form of a good-natured joke here and there. After a while, one attendee said, it just feels good to see who's still around.

Barbara Coyle, BHS Class of 1967, counted herself among the lucky ones. She's been married 44 years to a classmate who swept her off her feet at the Whisky a Go Go after they graduated. He wasn't around Saturday night, instead spending his birthday with their granddaughter.

Behind some feathered, Whitesnake-era manes on the dance floor sat Rae Ann Ware and Yvonne (Johnson) Flores, friends since their days at Burbank High School almost 60 years ago.

The pair graduated in 1958. Six months later, Ware was married; Flores was her bridesmaid.

They took two seats in the corner by the window, reminiscing about the days when their husbands rode motorcycles together by the airplane hangar near the railroad tracks. That hangar is now the Empire Center.

The band finished its set. Ware stood up as her son, Don, joined a minister at the other end of the ballroom for the surprise of the night.

Don's bride-to-be wore a floor-length velvet dress of deep plum; he wore a tasteful suit with burgundy accents.

He met Rebecca Sweet at Thomas Edison Elementary in the third grade. Their paths diverged for 30 years.

After their 30th reunion in 2010, Ware and Sweet reconnected. Facebook posts became texts, then phone calls. Their relationship grew.

As the reunion approached, they realized that many of their friends would be gathered in one place. They arranged a wedding for that night and originally kept it a surprise.

As of 9:30 it still was a surprise for several of the dance-floor divas. The minister shouted vows of loving, cherishing and honoring over a steady din of reunion revelers.

Ware and Sweet then tipped glasses of sand into a jar to represent their union and embraced in a long kiss. Fifty guests ripped into applause. From the other end of the room, the Black Eyed Peas kicked up from the speakers.

The dance floor filled again, this time with the first appearance of Mr. and Mrs. Ware.

"It's different, but as long as he's happy, I'm happy," said Ware's mother, Rae Ann.


BRYAN MAHONEY writes about Burbank neighbors and the place they call home. He can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter at @818NewGuy.


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