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Hoover High Class of ’68 Will Rock Out with Chuck Negron

Jul 26, 2018 11:00AM ● By Jordan Venema

The Show Must Go On

August 2018
By Jordan Venema
Photos Courtesy of 117 Entertainment Group

IN "THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE," Marcia pulls off the impossible, booking Davy Jones of The Monkees for her high school dance. It’s one of those classic movie moments, when a big star performs on a small stage in front of his most avid fans. For most people, such a concert will only ever be the stuff of Hollywood, but not for Hoover High School’s class of 1968.

On September 15, 2018, the class of ’68 will take a page out of Marcia’s playbook and host Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night) to perform its 50th class reunion. 

“Fifty years was a big deal to us, and we didn’t want to do anything that was the same old, same old,” says organizer Dianne McKneely. “I mean, we’ve already done four.”

“We didn’t want to do your typical ballroom reunion,” adds co-organizer Mike Cavale. “So we decided to do a concert.” 

The reunion committee, which also includes Richard Wukits, Francy Martinez, Dianne Osborne and Karen Alexander, met to listen to music, “and I started playing  some Three Dog Night and everybody got really excited about that,” says Cavale.

Though voted class clown in ’68, Cavale was all business to pull off a concert worthy of 50 years. A partner with Visalia’s Rainmaker Productions, Cavale has booked nationally touring bands like Jethro Tull, Martina McBride and 3 Doors Down. Now add Chuck Negron to the list, the lead vocalist for such hits as “One,” “Easy to be Hard” and “Joy to the World.” 

With Negron booked to perform at Fresno’s Tower Theatre, the class of 1968’s reunion is turning into the kind of concert that’s the envy of lower– and upperclassmen everywhere. But worry not. Organizers decided to open the concert to the public, meaning whatever class you belong to, whether it’s ’67 or ’17, you can purchase tickets for the show at the Tower Theatre website for about $40 to $60.

Though open to the public, a literal red carpet will exist for the class itself, and a private entrance to the concert through The Painted Table, where hors d’oeuvres will be served between 6 and 8pm. A post-concert reception will follow the concert back at The Painted Table. 

With Cavale, McKneely and company breaking every stereotype for what a class reunion could and should look like, it begs the question just how much such a high-profile reunion will cost.

“Well, for our 40-year reunion, we had a dinner and disc jockey, and that cost $85 a person,” says McKneely. “But for this we’re charging $95.”

That’s just an extra dollar a year over the last 10 years, which with inflation probably means tickets are cheaper to see Chuck Negron in 2018 than to experience a disc jockey in 2008.

But even if the higher price causes some pause, Cavale and McKneely say it’s more important classmates come than worry about the cost of a ticket. 

“If we knew somebody who wanted to come in the past and couldn’t afford it, we’d make sure they could,” says McKneely. “We don’t know how many more times we’re going to get to see each other.”

The reunion will include what McKneely calls A Wall of Remembrance, “for those who have gone before us, because at our age we’ve lost quite a few.”

So McKneely and Cavale hope a big concert won’t just offer big entertainment, but also drum up more interest than for past reunions. 

“Hopefully the excitement of a great concert along the reunion itself will draw people,” says Cavale. “Maybe people on the fence will get excited enough to want to come hang out with us.”  

Cavale and McKneely have helped plan every past class of 1968 reunion. And while 50 years is a benchmark in itself, they wanted this year to be special by donating proceeds from the concert back to Hoover High School.

“The plan is to get them a hefty check, hopefully, and do something that the school may need,” says Cavale. 

And with more reunions behind than before them, now is a good time to leave a legacy by giving back to the school that was formative for so many, that it might continue to be formative for so many more. Plus, there’s never a bad time to rock out to those Three Dog Night classics, and spend time with those who can appreciate those tunes most. •