French High School Bonfire 2004
Bonfire 2004

*** Each sub title ( if underlined) will take you to a picture page on the subject!

Comments from many FHS alumni let me know that this year was a huge success. But sadly it wasn't the success that I feel it could have or should have been.

    A set back with BISD caused preparations and planning for the Bonfire and Open House to get off to a slow start. But with strong determination and love for FHS, I fought for and eventually got the approval to continue with the bonfires!

~~~ Big Bill Sightings! ~~~

    With the BISD problems solved, we kicked things off by having Big Bill roaming the streets of Beaumont. Wearing the authentic Big Bill Mascot Suit loaned to the FHSAA by Kitty Boykin & Nnolan Andrus, we made every effort to have Big Bill seen!
    Businesses like the Pig Stand and The Early Bird Cafe opened their doors and hearts to Big Bill. Ron Eller '63, Benny Delaney '74, Kitty Boykin Andrus '75, Carol Derosell '79 and even Patsy Mafouz, (a GREENIE) helped escort Big Bill around town. Big Bill and his escorts were even seen riding around Parkdale Mall. Big Bill was a hit with shoppers and a number of FHS alumni flagged us down to chat about "The Best School WE Ever Knew".
    It was obvious that FHS spirit was still alive.
    Big Bill also made a stop at Cheddars to say hello to The Loyal Order of The Buffalos and shock the customers! The look and affection from the children filled my heart and made all my goofiness worth every minute.
    Things started heating up long before the bonfire.

The Fire ~~~

    What's a fire without wood? A couple of weeks before the bonfire I called Glenn McClammy '72 and asked for his help in getting the wood. He came through for me again, with the help of Apache a truckload of pallets were delivered Sat. morning. We had to have forklift to build the fire (relocate the pallets). We also needed a bull dozer to dig a hole for the fire, and spread new dirt down to cover the burn pile later. Then we needed dirt to cover the burn pile. I gave Kent a name of an alumni to contact and Transit Mix donated the refill dirt. Yes, we need all these things just for the FIRE!
    I went to the Beaumont Fire Department to obtain the fire permit. Without that, we would have had nothing but a pile of pallets.

~~~ Tents ~~~

    I contacted Bradley Binks '75 once more. Bradley donates tents, tables, and chairs. Bradley's AAA Rentals and Party Supply Co. has been a big supporter and I can't say thank you enough to him and his men. With the help of the larger tents we were able to centralize things around the DJ and Bonfire.

~~~ Food and Decorations ~~

    In the past we've had hotdogs, drinks and snacks, but this year we were fighting time. We only had a few weeks to continue with the bonfire. I called and pestered everyone I could think of for donations of food, drinks, snacks, coffee pots, crock pots, hot coco, and cups. Again a number of supporters came through.But this year we didn't have hotdogs. We had nachos and Frito pies. Also chips and candy along with coffee, cocoa and cold drinks. What I didn't get donated I bought. Ron and I also bought several items for the live auction. Out pounding the pavement I got several more items donated for the raffle. Things started taking shape.

~~ Honoree's ~~

    It's been part of the Alumni Association's tradition to honor someone each year and have a program in the auditorium. This year I wanted to Honor "YOU, The Alumni", for donating and supporting The French High School Alumni Association.

~~~ Alternate Activities ~~~

  • Ellen Payne Whitley '70 was called and asked if she could paint a backdrop for pictures and she offered to do cut-outs. Ellen came over to my house and "drafted" the cut outs so I could get them cut them cut down to size.
  • Now we needed a photographer so I called Glen Morrison '69. He said he would help me out and he did! Along with his photography equipment, he brought out carpet and plants to add to the backdrop James Patton '76 had printed for us. It all made the perfect setting!
    I didn't see many alumni utilizing the service. And what a shame. Glen does great work. I can honestly recommend him for all your photography needs.

    I was talking to Kitty one evening about what we were going to do and she mentioned a DJ. I told her the alumni association just didn't have the funds for that, but would be great. Kitty called Sheryl and Tom Kling '66 and they donated their time as DJ's to help us out. We were able to use their PA system for announcements. They do wedding, reunions and other events so please utilize our alumni! Not only the photographer, and DJ but the businesses that advertise in our program book.

~~~ Program ~~~

    Things really heated up. Ron Eller spent many hours working on the program booklet. Normally we take donations for the advertisements. But this year Ron wanted to help honor YOU, the alumni and the alumni supporters by including the ads for free. And to help supplement the cost, we asked only one dollar donation for the sale of the program booklet.

Proclamation ~~~

    Time was closing in and as Saturday approached, we never slowed down. W. L Pate put a bug in my ear about a proclamation and with Ron's help a proclamation was written and faxed to Mayor Lords office.
    It became Official that February 21, 2004, was FHS Day!
    WOW, this was so nice and I was so proud. I wanted this year to best ever! I spent hours on the phone trying to line this out to be a special announcement at the bonfire.

Advertising ~~~

    We still needed to advertise. Even though Big Bill was seen all over Beaumont, we still needed to reach everyone. I emailed everyone on my website. I faxed, emailed and called over 26 papers. Then one evening I was looking at the Examiner. And it hit me! I called the Examiner and told Melinee my idea for advertising and a new twist for their reoccurring "Look Who's reading the Examiner", *lol*. She thought it idea was great and Steven came to the FHS office to do a photo shoot with BIG BILL! On Feb. 19th, Big Bill could be seen reading the Examiner. That was a hoot! Big Bill made his debut on Channel 4 with Aimee Fuller to help get the word out. Big Bill (Beth), Pegi, Kitty, Benny with granddaughter Brianna, and Kent talked about the bonfire.

Last Minute Preparations ~~~

    Thursday evening, we had another "meeting" at my house to help get the gifts together, make signs and to prepare for Saturday. They were a great help and things started coming together. We talked about the program and and how on a short notice things looked good!.
    Kitty came over Friday morning and we loaded both our vans with as much as we could get in them. Then Ron, Kitty and myself met Benny at the warehouse to pick up Big Bill II. Taking Big Bill II back to FHS was a great. People stopped and honked as our caravan headed to FHS.
    We had wanted to have all 3 Mascots there this year, but we were told by another alumni that Big Bill I, now belonged to another ALUMNI. But when I talked to the BISD they said it was school property. But it has yet been returned to BISD.
    Ron, Benny, Kitty and Carol came over again Friday evening to help get things ready. Different games were set up for your enjoyment. Scavenger hunt gifts were wrapped. I got trivia questions ready to be read by the DJ through out the night. It was a long busy night and everyone headed home about 11:00pm to rest for our big day.

Saturday Feb. 21, 7:00am ~~~

    Ron and I headed to FHS at 7:00am to put on coffee and be there for the delivery of the wood and the tents. Glen got there with the Apache trucks and forklift. Now we were ready to build the fire. But the bulldozer wasn't there to dig the hole. The one that was suppose to be delivered was tied up, so Phil with offered to get one of theirs. WHEW! What a life saver. They got back, Big John dug the hole and Glen started moving the pallets.
    While waiting for the tents and tables, Carol, Patsy, Kitty, Benny, Ron and I started to unpack some of the boxes. Ellen got there to finish the cut-outs and help. Bradley Binks men came with the tents and things started looking GREAT. The DJ, Tom and Sheryl, came early to provide us with music while we set up. Ron and Benny worked on the lighting, coffee pots, food, and other items were being set up. Gifts, program booklet and trophies were being unpacked. Glen Morrison was working on the photo set. The Scholarship Table was set up. Lighting was still being taken care of and cords were being taped down for safety.
    People started leaving to clean up and things were going good. Ron was working on the cut out stands. I was still running around seeing to things. 6:00pm was closing in! There was still at lot to see to. Everyone was working franticly to get things ready for 6pm. I started setting out the food. Rhonda, Kent's wife was there helping me. Liska, his mother came to help too.

    Councilman at Large Andrew Cokino's got there really early and I talked to him about the Proclamation. He sat with Sheryl and got her to play some oldies music for him.
    We tried to turn the coffee pots on but they didn't seem to work. Things still needed to be set up. Breakers were still being tripped! Would we ever be ready by 6pm?
    I really don't know what happened after that. I was so busy running back and forth.

    But as day turned to night so our program turned from good to "bad". (in our eyes) Lights kept tripping the breakers. I was still running around making sure things were taken care of. (change, lights, just general needs)
    In addition, with the fall of darkness we saw that the lighting around the DJ was nonexistent. This caused the reading of the Proclamation to be a struggle for Councilman Cokinos and myself. When he handed it to me I couldn't read it! It's hard enough for me to read and write, much less read aloud in a crowd. Words and sentences run together, specially when I'm tired or nervous. I was both. I was very embarrassed and hurt that something very special that I worked on for YOU, the Alumni, was lost.

  • Kent did and always does a great job on the live auctions, I think that's his forte! He gets the crowd going and we raise much needed funds.
    Music filled the air, the school song was sung and the fire lit the night sky. The fire department made their annual trip to see the fire. And Big Bill was even seen looking at the fire close up!

    James Patton was the only one to partake in the scavenger hunt and had an awesome table full of the items on the scavenger hunt list. He had the old phone book, paper airplane, goodness! He had it all, plus more. Alumni were enjoying his table. Wish I had gotten a picture of his awesome display of FHS/Bmt. Memorabilia.

    We had a South Park "Greenie" Patsy, out there working, Becky England came out to help Saturday morning. Big John Taylor and many others pitched in to help Saturday night.
    The work is hard and we needed more men for the heavy work and seeing to the wood. We needed workers to help man the tables. We need to get more classes involved.

    I fought the BISD single handedly to continue to have the Bonfire's on school grounds. I researched the Scholarship Fund. And worked on the Proclamation. These things seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle. On top of that, the whole night I was so busy I didn't have a chance to just visit.

    I looked at the sign in sheets and said WOW, they were here? I missed seeing so many of you. For that I'm sorry

    It TAKES A LOT OF PEOPLE pulling together to make it a success. This year was so much fun working with Ron, Benny, Kitty, Carol and Pasty, going all over town in the Big Bill suit. I loved every minute of it. But I want to do other things too. I would like to do more fundraisers, work on the Scholarship Fund and take Big Bill to class reunions and do more work on my webpages.

    I have really heard nothing but good things about this years bonfire.
    And I can't say thank you enough to all of you for your support. This years BONFIRE WAS to HONOR YOU!
    and it was an HONOR to have each of you there.
    You make the Bonfire, because without YOU... what would it be?
    My heartfelt thanks to each of you!
    ((((HUGS)))) Maribeth Segree, "Big Bill Mascot"