An Alumni Tradition 50 Years and Counting

A relaxed, casual, evening with brothers. 

There is nothing fancy about the Alumni Association’s annual Turkey Roll & Reunion -- and that might be the reason for its success.

“It’s a great night, very relaxed, where you see alumni of all ages coming together,” says Matt Montemurro ’05. “The beauty of the night is how quickly they connect and share their passion for St. Mike’s.”

The St. Michael's College School class of 1992 celebrating their 25th anniversary at the Alumni Turkey Roll & Reunion in 2016.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS 

The origin of the Turkey Roll & Reunion dates back to the fall of 1964. Under the direction of then Alumni President, Frank Glionna ’53, and Alumni Vice President, Peter D’Agostino ’44, the annual reunion, with the intent of renewing friendships and creating new ones, was established.

Gerry Marlborough ‘59 and Carl Geniole at Turkey Roll ’77.

“The gym was set up with four or five gaming tables for alumni to play. We would make our own sandwiches from a buffet of cold cuts and kaisers,” recalls Paul Thomson ’65. “The faculty and staff would operate the popular gaming tables, and the alumnus that rolled the highest number would take home a turkey. It was a night we always looked forward to as it was filled with stories that have been retold thousands of times over, but never lost their charm.”

In 1997, the traditional date for the Turkey Roll & Reunion changed to the first Friday in November to accommodate the busy Christmas season. The following year, the event went on hiatus to allow for the reorganization of the alumni executive and a focus on fundraising for the school’s then Building Fund Campaign.

A group of St. Michael's College School alumni attending Turkey Roll in the 60s.

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND 

It was four years before the Turkey Roll & Reunion returned to SMCS. A group of alumni, along with the late Dan Prendergast, OSM, re-introduced the event in 2002. 

“Looking back, it’s still amazing to think how passionate we were about this. We spent so many hours calling and inviting alumni back,” says Romeo Milano ’80, Alumni Association past president and a current director. “We were so determined to have the opportunity to get together and share with the younger alumni how special St. Michael’s was to us. Small growing pains quickly subsided thanks to our collective determination to relive the joys of the past.”

A NEW ERA

The event, which now begins with an alumni Mass, continues to grow in popularity and has once again become a mainstay on the alumni calendar. The late Fr. Zinger, CSB, OSM also offered tours of the building for alumni who had not been back to the school in a while. Visits to Fr. Zinger’s legendary room 12—which doubles as a museum-like photo tribute to the past and even includes a 45-year photo album—continues to be a popular gathering spot during the evening.

Alumni gathered in room 12 looking through Fr. Zinger, CSB, OSM’s 45-year photo collection of memories that are captured on the walls and in many photo albums.

To help mark the classes celebrating anniversaries, there is a new class photo taken, special archival memorabilia is on display, and alumni receive a small gift.

Today’s Turkey Roll crowd includes alumni dating back to the 1940s all the way up to the most recent graduating class, with the crowds surpassing 600. Annually, from across Canada, the United States, and Europe, alumni come back for the sole purpose of celebrating at Turkey Roll. Attendees gather around the archive tables sharing memories, join in friendly competition at one of the gaming tables, and of course try their luck at winning a Christmas turkey.

Alumni sharing memories at the archives display set up for the Alumni Turkey Roll & Reunion.

The 2019 Turkey Roll & Reunion celebration is on Friday, November 29. This year, the anniversary classes honoured will be 1969, 1970, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1995, 2009, and 2010.  All proceeds from this year’s reunion will support the Archangel’s Den Alumni Entrepreneur Contest in the spring.