Fond memories of vacations in Rehoboth Beach prompted Sarah P. Boyer of Bethseda, Md., to suggest it as the location for a family reunion which spanned three generations. The following is Boyer's account of how Rehoboth businesses put out the welcome mat for her and 45 other members of the Pursglove clan:
"As our family of five siblings has grown and become more spread out geographically, our children have missed the closeness they had experienced with their cousins growing up. Occasional weddings over the years have helped somewhat, but they are usually too rushed to do much visiting. So when our niece, Jessica, No. 9 out of 15 Pursglove grandchildren, raised the possibility of a family reunion, we all thought it was a great idea. She needed help, however, particularly in finding a venue for the event and in all of the other necessary planning. Aunts, uncles, and other cousins stepped up to the plate to assist.
Since the family is so spread out, some of them would have to travel significant distances regardless of the location selected for the event. We all love the beach, however, and a fair number of family members have vacationed on the Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina shores through the years. Therefore, we decided to hold the reunion on the East Coast. And because it’s a personal favorite destination, I started looking for possible venues in Rehoboth Beach. We soon discovered, however, that with a guest list of 46, we needed a lot of space!
My immediate family had vacationed many times at the Atlantic Sands Hotel in Rehoboth, and it had extra special memories since it was the last place I was able to take our mother before she passed away. A hotel! What a great idea for a reunion! Everyone would have their own space, own bathroom, no cooking or cleaning required of family members, close to many restaurants and activities, and right on the Boardwalk!
It all came together with the expert help of Barbara Brewer, director of sales & marketing at the Atlantic Sands, who orchestrated all the room arrangements. We also had a welcome cocktail party and sit-down dinner at the hotel, both magically coordinated by Lindsay Odenwelder, the Sands’ catering sales manager, who made all the food selections and logistics so easy!
Now, how to get the younger generation interested in family history?
To begin, my sister, Susan, created a Family Reunion website to disseminate information about the event. She posted numerous old family photos from previous generations and added historical family facts from personal memories and interviews. During the dinner at the reunion, my oldest sister, Hattie Jo, led a contest regarding the family history, and we awarded gift cards as prizes to engage the younger generations. We also employed the family crest as the design on a souvenir tote bag and on water bottles to highlight the origin of our surname, which has been traced back to the 10th century! We also had customized baseball caps for everyone, embroidered with the name and date of the reunion.
Susan, the family archivist, also compiled an incredible slideshow of movies and photographs of the cousins growing up together, which was shown during the grand family dinner. And finally, I outfitted the nine (of 11) great-grandchildren who were in attendance, and they were beautifully coordinated for family pictures.
We were also extraordinarily fortunate to engage the professional photography services of David Koster of Portraits in the Sand. The manager of the Atlantic Sands very kindly agreed to Dave's idea to use the pool deck for our group shots since several family members have difficulty walking on the sand. Attempting to corral 40-plus relatives for photographs was not easy, but Dave made the experience fun and painless.
Of course, the reunion was a terrific success, and everyone had a ball. Swimming in the ocean, sitting poolside at the hotel (Who knew? Waiter service!), Funland, Nicola's, Dolle's, Candy Kitchen, Grotto, outlets...and best of all...meeting two new babies in the family and getting to know each other, again!"
Sales and Marketing Director Brewer said, "It was such an honor and privilege for our staff to assist in the planning and preparation for the 2014 Pursglove Family Reunion at the Beach! We enjoyed them immensely and hope to see them again! Dave [Koster] truly captured the beauty of this loving, caring family poolside at the Atlantic Sands Hotel with Rehoboth Beach in the background! We applaud Jessica and the whole family for keeping family reunions alive in an internet age and thank the Pursglove family for allowing us to play such an important role in their wonderful event. It was a distinct pleasure!"