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Hershey Family Reunions

Summer 2006 Summer 2005 Winter 2004 Summer 2004 2003  2002  2001  2000 

 

John Wilbur Hershey
11 November 1913 - 2 January 2003

Donald Hershey
21 April 1918 - 26 Feb 2005

    Every first weekend of August, the campground of little Earl Park, Indiana, is home to a great reunion of Hershey families.  This annual family reunion started in 1942 at the farm of one of the family members, and moved to Earl Park in 1975.  At that time, one of the family members (Charlotte) was a resident of Earl Park.  The Earl Park campground turned out to be an ideal place for the annual reunion long after no relatives lived in the area. Attendees from as far as the states of Florida, Texas, and Washington were present this year.
    The reunion is primarily the descendents of George Daniel Hershey and Wife Maude Permelia Humphrey. George, 1877-1932, and Maude, 1881-1962, had 12 Children, Charlotte, Charles, Cloyd, Mary, Ruth, Paul, Louise, John, Robert (Bob), Donald, Jeanne, and Betty. My wife and I attended first in 1994, and now attend regularly.

This was the 12 in about 1975. the12.JPG (45823 bytes)
   Four of the 12 children of George and Maude are still alive. Three, Betty, John, and Jeanne, pictured here in 1998, are at all these reunions. The other survivor of the 12, Donald, does not make it to this reunion, so many members of the family meet near his home in Florida in January each year in a mini-reunion. wpe3.jpg (10183 bytes)
     At the 1999 reunion in Earl Park, over a hundred relatives were present.  As always, several townspeople stopped by to say hello.   On Sunday morning, the local church where Charlotte had attended holds their morning service in the park so it is convenient for the reunion. wpe6.jpg (10124 bytes)

    While the "official" days of the reunion are from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, the reunion actually starts on the preceding Monday or Tuesday, and extends through breakfast on Monday.  About half of the attendees camp, and the others spend their nights at motels in Kentland, about 7 miles from Earl Park.   Campers typically arrive as early as possible to get the shady spots near the center of the activities.  Some who stay at a motel bring screen rooms and folding chairs, along with cooking gear, and set them up at the campground to have a place to call "home" while there. Electricity and water are available throughout the camping areas.  Most campers also bring screen rooms for cooking, eating, and game playing out of the sun and insects.  Games are usually with cards or dominoes, with Mexican Train probably the most popular.
    Unlike the family reunions of my childhood, this one has endured because it is organized.  Officers of President and of Secretary/treasurer are elected at a Sunday afternoon business meeting. Invitations with activity schedules are mailed in June to all families. Scheduled activities include several group meals, bingo, a money raising auction of crafts and memorabilia, games and contests.  Several games and contests are for adults and older children, and others are just for the youngsters.  Adult games scheduled include softball, horse shoes, and volley ball.  An adult water balloon tossing/catching contest is followed by a water balloon and water gun fight by the youngsters.  This year the record heat had adults asking to join in the water fight as targets.  Some even paid as much as a quarter a squirt to be cooled off. Whatever your age, this reunion is for you if you are a Hershey.

The Hershey Reunion
at
Earl Park, Indiana

When I get there, I see the playground,
The playground where I left last year's memories.
I can hear my cousins laughing so joyously, and
I see my family, who I see only once a year.
I suddenly get that feeling that you get,
When you are being loved.
The grass smells so sweet,
I can't wait to go play!
Yet, it all goes too quickly, and I have to leave.

Tara Hershey
May 30, 1999
Age 11

wpe1.jpg (13696 bytes)

One youngster's opinion.

Tara, brother Ryan, parents Joanne & Tom

One of the 1942 reunion participants, Jeanne, wrote a poem describing that first reunion.  Husband Bill read this to the group at the 1999 business meeting.
    1999 Reunion Pictures.              More 1999 reunion Pictures.        Group Picture of 2000.

Our Reunion Experiences                                                                       

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