Recently we finished an order for over 800 custom Hawaiian shirts for the Princeton Class of 1997’s 20th Reunion. Themed Tigeritaville, the reunion was full of Jimmy Buffet and Caribbean-themed delights, and custom Hawaiian shirts helped bring it all together. We asked the Reunion officer Jonathan Mendelson for some insight about the event.
What was it like to have such a large class back together again after 20 years?
Princeton Reunions are unlike anywhere else — they are a major event and every year thousands of former Princetonians return to see old friends, reconnect, and enjoy a fabulous weekend on campus. That said, the Class of 1997 has been particularly strong with attendance, setting records for attendance at our 10th and definitely this year as well for our 20th. It’s a great feeling to see such close connections with old classmates. Plus, our class is big enough that I’ve always met someone new at one of these events — we didn’t know each other as students, but now as alumni there’s an entirely new set of interesting, talented people with whom to meet and connect. And it’s a lot of fun to share stories about our school days — sometimes reliving the same events from very different perspectives.
Tell us a bit about the reunion theme, Tigeritaville.
We select our theme about a year in advance. Typically there are anywhere from 5 to 10 different proposals, each trying to tie in some sort of Princeton concept (oftentimes our mascot, the tiger). We usually vote on the theme via an online survey. Our winner for the 20th was “Tigeritaville.” Here’s a blurb from our website:
The Class of 1997 will celebrate its 20th Reunion June 1-4, 2017.
It’s ’97 o’clock somewhere. We’ll don our flip-flops, sunglasses, and, of course, a little orange and black for a trip to Princeton’s all-inclusive island resort located in beautiful Little/Edwards courtyard. Come enjoy the unique flavor of the Keys and the Caribbean. Relax to the sweet sounds of steel drums, reggae, and Jimmy Buffett (with plenty of great party music too). We’ll have all sorts of island themed activities for you and your companions. It’ll be a once in a generation trip you’ll never forget… #princeton97 #its97oclocksomewhere #97tigeritaville
Did you feel like your shirts helped bring the group together?
Everyone loved the shirts. For Princetonians, you can never get enough orange and black. Our custom Hawaiian shirts really made our costume stand out — Becky and the Shop4ties/CustomHawaiianShirtShop team did a great job incorporating our design ideas and executed flawlessly on the final product. We were even able to add extra shirts to our order at the last minute when we saw our attendance number exceed expectations!
Case in point — there’s definitely competition between other “major” reunion classes (5th, 10th, 15th, etc) to see who has the best costume for any given Reunions. I heard from several people that the 1997 costume this year was the best. In fact, one of my classmates told me that an another alumnae (not 1997) offered her cash to buy the shirt right off her back!
What was your favorite part of the reunion?
There were so many great moments, here are some particularly good ones:
1) Meals together with friends that I had not seen in 10 years
2) Our 12 ft x 7ft LED video board showing a live-updating stream of photos tagged by 1997 members throughout the weekend
3) A visit from the Princeton University Band playing a live concert for 1997 members and families
4) The annual march down Elm Street (through middle of campus), affectionately known as P-Rade with my sons and wife
5) Live entertainment at night — we got to see Duran Duran (yes, the real band) perform live one evening at the 30th Reunion — very cool
Thanks so much Jonathan and the Princeton ’97 crew!