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State group’s ‘reunion kits’ in high demand

Each year for the past four years, the West Virginia Department of Commerce has made special "reunion kits" available to groups and communities interested in having summer reunions or gatherings in West Virginia.

The office orders 1,000 kits, and typically still has some leftover as late as August or September.

This year was different. All the kits were reserved by mid-May, months earlier than previous years.

"This year was the biggest one ever," said Courtney Sisk, spokeswoman for the Department of Commerce.

Sisk said that the 2013 kits are different than in the past because they include unique items for West Virginia's sesquicentennial, including a commemorative T-shirt, a small number of 150th birthday hats and convention bags with the 150th birthday logo.

"People are more interested in the kits because of the special items," Sisk said.

Both private and public groups were able to order the kits, and Sisk said that there were orders from all over the state.

In Lewis County, reunion organizers for the former community

of Roanoke ordered one of the kits for this year's event last month - the 20th such gathering for the group.

"Everyone was really well pleased," said Emma Snyder, one of the planners of the reunion.

Snyder said this was the second year the reunion ordered a kit.

Last year, she saw an advertisement in the local newspaper that the kits were available, and thought that the kit would make a good addition to the event.

"I thought, 'Oh, that would be a good idea,'" she said. "The people really enjoyed it."

Snyder said that the hats and T-shirts were given as door prizes, and that the rest of the items were

all taken home by the reunion's 185 attendees, save for just a few of the printed items.

"The (post)cards were great," she said.

Event organizers in Vienna, in Wood County, also ordered a kit for its parade and celebration that will be held on June 20. Vienna City Councilman Jim Miracle said that certain items in the kit, like the T-shirt and hats, will be used as door prizes, just like the Roanoke group.

Other contents of the kit, like the state park brochures and state highway maps, will be on display for people to take if interested.

He added that festival organizers were pleased with what they received with the kit, and that it would add to the community's celebration.

"We only get one chance to celebrate the sesquicentennial," Miracle said. "It's a big thing."

This year's kit included a 150th Birthday T-shirt, three 150th Birthday hats, 25 plastic convention bags with the 150th Birthday logo, 25 "Happy Birthday" balloons, 25 West Virginia highway maps, 25 state park bookmarks, 25 special edition "WV EDGE" magazines, 50 assorted scenic postcards of the state, 15 state park brochures, 15 state travel guides and a West Virginia-shaped cookie cutter.

Sisk said that the Department of Commerce has not yet decided if the reunion kit program will continue next year.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at or 304-348-4817.



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