August 6 – 9, 2009
1st row: Karl Nease, Al Gebauer, Bob Hoover, John McGauley
2nd row: Garnett Howard, Glenn Cope, Jim Dettling, Clem Thrift
1st row: Sandy Johnson-Oliver, Hope Hoover Coker, Debbie Hightower
2nd row: Judy Mansur, Faith Hoover-Scott, Gerda Swift, Catherine Hostetler
3rd row: Jerry Hightower, Jeff Cope, Ken Oliver, Roger Swift, Steve Mansur, Stephen Dettling, James L. Dettling, Bill Hostetler
The 2009 HOLT Reunion was held in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel from August 6th to 9th. A total of 53 people attended including 8 crew members.
Paul Pickett and his daughter, Debbie Pickett Hightower, arranged the entire reunion; however, Paul passed away one week before the reunion took place. Debbie and Jerry Hightower hosted the reunion, in Paul’s absence, with help from friends and did a fantastic job with tours and ensuring everybody was entertained. Thursday night after people arrived at the hotel, a Luau held Southern Style barbecue was enjoyed by everybody with Luau decorations and attendees dressed in their favorite Hawaiian attire.
On Friday the crew members and families rode electric shuttle busses to the Tennessee River Gorge Explorer to enjoy a very scenic ride down the Tennessee River on a unique high speed catamaran. After the boat ride, lunch at the Big River Grille, and the impressive Tennessee Aquarium were enjoyed by all. Dinner at night was on your own and some enjoyed dining aboard the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo railroad car.
Saturday brought more tours of the area including “the world’s steepest passenger railway”, the Incline Railway, to the top of Lookout Mountain. The bus then brought us to famed Rock City Gardens. You may remember many barns with the roofs advertising to “See Rock City” and we finally got to see in person the beautiful Rock City with its natural rock fonnations, trails, gardens and fantastic views.
Saturday night was the banquet for the reunion. People were greeted by World War II era music by the “Sweet Georgia Sounds” Band and enjoyed the music during the excellent dinner. After dinner, retired Rear Admiral Vance Fry gave an inspiring and entertaining speech. Following the banquet, a friend of Debbie and Jerry’s, Keith Arimura, photographed all reunion attendees.
Sunday was a free day for everyone to do as they chose. Some people needed to leave, some visited in the hospitality room, some went shopping, some others were daredevils and went hang gliding(Jeff Cope, Sandy and Ken Oliver), and one, Jeff, added a cave exploring expedition to make his day complete.
There was discussion during the banquet if reunions should continue since the number of crew members attending was getting smaller. It was decided by the crew members they wanted to continue and everybody was in agreement since the Hightowers did a fantastic job arranging this year’s reunion the next reunion in 2010 should also be held in Chattanooga at the Choo-Choo Hotel. We look forward to seeing everybody there!