Windham – The seventh edition of Windham Summerfest went off without a hitch Saturday, June 22. Despite rain showers and thunderstorms all around the region, nary a drop struck revelers at the Windham schools complex in Windham Center.

The event was almost canceled earlier this year when the town tried fruitlessly to find additional volunteers to help organize the multifaceted event. But the show went on thanks to a core group of dedicated volunteers who didn’t want to see the annual tradition fade away as it did in the 1990s.

“It went quite well,” said Ron Eby, a member of the organizing committee. “It was an energetic bunch of people who came in with some new ideas and mixed some of the old ideas, and I think they worked very, very well together. And as a result of that, I think it was a success.”

While the hour-long parade along Route 202 at midday and a 25-minute fireworks show to cap off the event Saturday night were big draws, another major highlight of this year’s event was a special two-hour performance by the Windham Chamber Singers. The group celebrated its 25th anniversary last weekend with several social events, including a reunion concert at Windham High School’s auditorium Saturday night as part of Summerfest.

Singers from the classes of 1989 to 2016 joined together at the Windham Performing Arts Center under the direction of longtime conductor Dr. Richard Nickerson to celebrate a quarter century of music.

Nickerson, the director of choral activities at Windham High School, said the reunion concert was the culmination of 25 years of work. During this time, the chamber singers have earned several accolades including winning the Prize of Vienna at the International Youth and Music Festival, and performances on “CBS This Morning” and NBC’s “Today,” and at the White House and Carnegie Hall.

Nickerson estimated around 150 current and former students participated in Saturday’s concert.

“It is without a doubt one of the proudest nights I’ve ever had as a teacher,” Nickerson said. “To see the number of students that have come back is phenomenal.”

The concert began with two songs performed by the most recent chamber singers, followed by a 1996 news clip from “NBC Nightly News.” The clip documented the group’s preparations for their trip to Vienna, their victory and their homecoming. Once the video ended, the lights went up and chamber singers, past and present, filed onto the stage to a stream of applause and opened with “River in Judea.”

Throughout the concert, group alumni paused to share memories of their high-school singing days with Nickerson and the audience, usually ending with a thank-you to the town of Windham.

“We much appreciate the support we see from our community,” Nickerson said. “That’s what’s enabled us to continue to achieve and strive for excellence.”

Romeo Jalbert, a 1995 graduate said it was special to come back together with old friends and Nickerson after so many years.

“It’s been 18 years since I’ve gotten on the stage, so it’s fun to get back out there,” Jalbert said. “It’s a great community, great family that we had here and it’s just been a pleasure.”

After an intermission that featured a slideshow recounting the past 25 years, the group returned to the stage, and continued to show no sign of only a day’s worth of rehearsal together.

Part II of the show featured audience interaction, as Nickerson joined students in a “Stomp”-like medley of “Some Nights” and “We Will Rock You,” finishing with a standing ovation to the final song trio, “Praise His Holy Name,” “Age of Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine.”

Chanda Turner, a 1996 graduate said she was so thankful to everyone who put the reunion weekend together and to her brother, Casey Turner, who made her go to the concert.

“It has been really great to reconnect with people, that as time goes on, even the best of intentions life drifts you apart, and so to see these people again you remember the joy that they brought to your lives,” she said. “It’s the very little things, it’s their little idiosyncrasies, that just warm your heart to see it again, it’s things you didn’t even know you missed about them…it’s the people.”

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.

Current and former members of the Windham Chamber Singers reunite on the stage at the high school auditorium to celebrate the group’s 25-year history.
Photo by Rich Obrey

Samantha Hodgdon, fresh off graduation from Windham High School, solos with members of the Windham Chamber Singers during Saturday’s anniversary concert. 

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.
Photo by Rich Obrey

Zach Turgeon gets a bird’s-eye view of the Summerfest parade activities while perched on his dad Eddie’s shoulders.  

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.
Photo by Rich Obrey

Shane Miclon of the McDonald’s Up Team, juggles along the parade route while riding on the shoulders of his brother, Collin.  

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.
Photo by Rich Obrey

Windham Middle School honors student Parker Quimby, the inaugural Mr. Teen Maine, is introduced during the Summerfest parade. 

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.
Photo by Rich Obrey

Nathan Lewis of Windham gets a closer look at a ‘32 Ford roadster on display during the Duane Clark Memorial Scholarship Car Show at Windham High School. 

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.
Photo by Rich Obrey

The voice of Windham football and the annual Summerfest parade, announcer Bob Witham, right, goes over his notes for the parade with Parade Chairman Clarence Wisecup just before the beginning of the event. 

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.
Photo by Rich Obrey

The Windham Police Department’s color guard leads the parade down Route 202. 

Windham celebrates Summerfest with a day of activities at the high school complex.
Photo by Rich Obrey

Motor Booty Affair on stage before the fireworks on Saturday night. 

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