It’s fitting that one of Tacoma’s most famous landmarks have a birthday bash as memorable as its fairy-castle turrets and majestic view of Commencement Bay.
So Stadium High School alumni and supporters are planning a weekend of entertainment and activities, which they predict will draw more than 15,000 people to the North End school next fall.
The festivities will celebrate Stadium’s history and its promising future in renovated facilities. After two years of construction on a $99.5 million restoration and modernization, Stadium will reopen for classes in September.
A group of about 60 called the Stadium Centennial Foundation has been organizing the celebration for months.
“The school itself and (Stadium) Bowl are such an icon, and the architecture and history are so interesting,” said Pati Lynn, foundation president and celebration co-chairwoman. “There’s so much about it that represents Tacoma.”
The renovated campus will be dedicated around the start of school, and centennial events will be held during homecoming weekend, Sept. 15, 16 and 17.
Plans in the works include art, activities and entertainment in the Stadium Bowl, fireworks, tours of the school and a world record attempt.
Organizers expect such huge crowds they are arranging for portable toilets and shuttle buses.
As many as 10 Tiger classes could hold reunions that weekend. An actuary study by a Stadium graduate showed 25,000 living alumni, Lynn said.
And it could be tough to find a hotel in Tacoma. Besides the Stadium celebration, the Maritime Fest and Puyallup Fair will be going on the same weekend.
The centennial events will begin with a football game the night of Sept. 15 featuring Stadium versus Bellarmine. Organizers hope to set a Guinness World Record in the 17,000-seat bowl that night for the largest-ever high school reunion.
“We’re hoping to have at least 15,000 (people) in the bowl,” Lynn said. “We have to have proof they attended Stadium and were at the (football) event.”
Daytime activities in the bowl Sept. 16 and 17 will recall Stadium’s history. Entertainers will perform “music through the decades.” Organizers are working to see if the Harold E. LeMay Museum will display cars from each of Stadium’s 10 decades, Lynn said. Community members also can roam through art displays, food booths and children’s activities in the bowl.
Organizers hope to bring a major entertainer to perform in the bowl on Sept. 16, Lynn said. Fireworks over Commencement Bay would end the evening.
But snagging a big act will depend on finding a major sponsor to underwrite the concert.
The foundation is teaming up with the school district to put on the festivities, but Lynn stressed that no school funds will be spent on the celebration.
Instead, the organizers are asking alumni and corporations for support, a task that involves finding current addresses for thousands of alumni. They’re also seeking more than 500 volunteers to lead tours, man the booths and do other tasks.
Beyond the weekend activities, Stadium supporters hope to leave a lasting gift to the school.
The Stadium Centennial Foundation is working to raise $500,000 from alumni by 2010 to benefit school programs and building improvements. The foundation already has raised $40,000 through a letter campaign to alumni.
“I believe in public education with all of my heart, and I dream of the day when all people believe that the best education available is in our public school system,” Lynn said. “One of the ways to achieve that dream is to bring more private funding into the public system.”
HOW TO HELP
Individuals can become part of the Stadium High School campus by buying masonry tiles engraved with a personalized message that will pave a “Tiger Trail” walkway on the campus.
The Stadium Centennial Foundation is selling the tiles for $60 to $80, depending on the number of lines engraved. Proceeds will support the Stadium 2010 Campaign, an effort to raise $500,000 by 2010 to support academics, the arts and athletics.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To learn more about Stadium High’s centennial celebration, to volunteer or donate money, to buy a tile or to update alumni information for reunion organizers:
• Go to www.celebratestadium.com.
• Leave a message with the foundation at 253-879-9100.
• Send an e-mail to foundation president Pati Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Debby Abe: 253-597-8694