May 5th, 2016
Reunion Day 1: Thursday
by Ginny Shook
The first day of The High Chaparral Reunion is what might be called a “soft opening.” The celebrities are still arriving, vendors are setting up their wares, and adjustments are being made to chairs and tables. But that doesn’t stop a large amount of fans from lining up at 8:00AM, ready to get their special packets filled with a name tag, the all-important reunion program, and some precious gifts from the generous sponsors. Even though they won’t be admitted to the celebrity room for an hour they stand in the threshold, daring to put a toe across as they search for a sight of their favorite star. But as the hall fills with fans there are shouts of joy and squeals of recognition as old friends from past reunions spot each other. Fans who are attending for the first time are soon made to feel part of the family. No one is ever left out at The High Chaparral Reunion.
Then the doors are officially open and everyone rushes in. Some make a bee-line to that special celebrity. Others run to the silent auction tables, filled to the brim with memorabilia, signed photos, episode scripts, canvas prints, and other hearts’ desires.
It’s a little different this year – there are celebrities from other great TV shows and movies besides The High Chaparral. Robert Fuller, star of Laramie, Wagon Train, and too many movies to mention, has a long line in front of his table within minutes. Shyer fans hang back, admiring how handsome he is. Those blue eyes!
A couple daring men approach Barbara Luna (most popular for her guest starring roles on Star Trek) and are immediately charmed by her sweetness and beauty. They become her willing helpers to complete the set-up of her photo table and it seems like they have been friends forever.
The Virginian is being celebrated with the appearance of Roberta Shore. She is warm and friendly, just as imagined. How do these women manage to stay so beautiful?
The foreman of the High Chaparral, played by veteran Don Collier, slouches back comfortably in his chair while more girls than are necessary try to set up his photos just so. He never forgets a face, and has warm hugs for all his old fan friends and new fans who can’t believe Sam Butler is right in front of them.
Oops, Darby Hinton of Daniel Boone sends word he has missed his flight. But when he does arrive, he finds his seat next to Don and there is soon a crowd around them that look like they will never leave.
There’s Rudy Ramos, who played Wind on The High Chaparral. He is not the boy he was back in 1970 and so much more handsome. Fans ask if he will be doing his one man show, “Geronimo” during the weekend.
Boyd Magers, publisher of Western Clippings, makes Don put on a blindfold and play “Pin the Tail on the Gunfighter.” Which happens to be a blown up drawing of Don himself. Then everyone wants to try.
Charlie LeSueur, Arizona’s Official Western Film Historian, picks up a microphone and goes around the room, asking the celebrities a question or two, helping everyone to feel at home.
Dr Buck Montgomery is helping vendors setup and organize. Fans can’t wait to collect a hug from actor and stuntman Jeff McCarroll, meet Wyatt McCrea – the room is busy and full of excitement.
And on it goes….so much to see and do, so many people to talk to. Later there will be a Q&A with Don Collier, Robert Fuller and Barbara Luna. Boyd Magers asks just the right questions. There will be many more of these panels throughout the weekend.
It doesn’t seem possible that it’s already time for dinner. A bus takes the fans to the White Stallion ranch for a down-home steak dinner. The scenery on the way is unsurpassed – majestic saguaro cactus, craggy mountains, and even an occasional horse.
Who can go to bed after such a day? Fans catch their breath around the pool at the Casino Del Sol that looks so magical when it is lit against the dark sky, basking in the still-warm temperature of the desert. After just one day, friends have been made for life. It’s hard to imagine that there are three more days to follow. The excitement is almost too much to take. But tomorrow is going to be even better.
See more Reunion photos at http://