It was shaping up as a fine reunion: a ballroom at the Marriot Inner Harbor had been reserved, hot hors d'oeuvres selected and a disc jockey hired. More than 100 members of Northern High School's class of 1971 were expected to attend on Nov. 29.
But on Nov. 1, the Illinois company hired to track down classmates and collect their $47.50 reservations went out of business and now says it probably won't be able to refund the $6,317 it collected.
Northern's reunion is one of 13 in the Baltimore-Washington area -- and countless others nationwide -- that were affected by the bankruptcy of Reunions, A Class Organization Inc. The company, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., blames the recession and says a single secured creditor will probably get all the money.
The party-planning company operated nationwide, helping track down lost classmates and putting down deposits on halls and entertainment in exchange for a cut of the ticket sales.
"I was very shocked and surprised and everything else and I didn't know what to do," said Kathy Myers, an organizer for Northern's reunion.
She and the other organizers scrambled and the party will go on -- but with changes. But it will be held at the VFW Hall in Parkville instead of the romantic Inner Harbor. The cash bar will be replaced by beer and mixers. And the catered hors d'oeuvres will be replaced by dips and snacks classmates can make themselves.
A disc jockey -- Frank Trocki -- has come forward and offered to do the job for free, Myers said. "It's been hectic," she observed.
Likewise, the Pikesville Senior High class of '71 will go forward with its reunion, after some hectic footwork by organizers. About 200 classmates had sent in their $55, and that $11,000 may be lost forever, said Charlotte Kleeman, an organizer.
The Bonnieview County Club was understanding and worked with the group, she said. The DJ also offered to cut a new deal and some classmates reached into their pockets for some generous contributions to keep the event on track, she said.
Attendees will be asked to fork over another $20 to help defray costs.
Brian Blitz, a local attorney and fellow organizer, said he plans to file complaints with the Illinois attorney general and the Cook County, Ill., state's attorney.
A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office in Illinois said the office has received a number of complaints and is investigating. Maryland's attorney general's office said it has not received complaints and would likely defer to Illinois in this case.