Every summer the Williams and Averettes host their “Annual Family and Friends Celebration of Life Extravaganza” at the shore with Lou Williams and Claudia Averette-Williams. Scenic Ocean Pines, Md. was this year’s destination.
The celebration has become a tradition that began 10 years ago as an intimate birthday savoir for Claudia. Her birthday is on the Fourth of July and those who know Claudia, know that she is full of fireworks personally and professionally.
“Five years ago my mother, Susan Averette, was called to glory and that’s when the savoir became a ‘Celebration of Life.’ The focus of this gathering was to pay homage to those loved ones that had gone onto to glory,” Claudia explained.
In January, Claudia, her husband, Lou, along with her siblings; Dianne Stedman, Carol Averette, Debbie Averette from California and her brother, Ronnie Averette, begin planning for their summer extravaganza by reflecting upon significant events that took place the previous year. Each and every detail and task for the celebration is carefully delegated to all family members. They collectively agree on a theme, color and itinerary. The festivities include barbeque, card games, movies, great conversation, music, cocktails and all the ingredients for relaxation and fun.
The sisters arrive a few days before the event to bond and begin preparations. That involves shopping for the goodies on the menu and items for welcome baskets. They sit on the floor listening to music laughing, crying and creating these baskets out of love to present to their overnight guests. An additional thank you gift is given to family and friends traveling as far away from California. This includes a CD with a collection of Claudia, Lou and their siblings’ favorite songs.
Several of their guests rent shore houses in the Pines community so that they can enjoy the festivities. Some of the friends enjoying the good times included: Philadelphians Aliya and Mike Smith, Mickie Garnett, Tennille and Montez and Kevin and Barbara Averette, who traveled from Newport News, Va.
On day one, the theme was “3 S’s,” which included a delicious selection of gourmet selection of gourmet sandwiches, assorted salads and Sangria.
“This is our way of welcoming our friends to the Pines and to give them a bit to eat after a long road ride,” Claudia shared.
On day two, the theme was “Summer in White; Hats Off to You.” The day begins early with Lou and his right-hand man, John Stedman, setting up canopies, tables and chairs in time for the arrival of their guests.
The celebration began as guests arrived stylishly dressed in white wearing and an array of fashionable hats. Neighbors welcomed them with waves as they cruised down the canal. There was electricity and excitement everywhere as smooth jazz filled the air.
A lively band played as Lou serenaded guests with a medley of Frankie Beverly songs. Wearing a baseball cap, as the legendary singer is known for; he began with a great rendition of Beverly’s “Before I Let Go.” This is a very special song for the family.
“Everyone joined Lou on the pier during his performance to pay homage to all that have gone to glory and thank all that were invited to partake in our celebration,” said Claudia.
This year, fellow members of The Philadelphia Carats Inc. joined their vice president, Claudia. Many of Lou’s fellow members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., where he served as a past Polemarch, were on hand as well. There were so many guests staying at the Pines who wanted to continue the two-day celebration; it turned into a five-day celebration of life, family and friends.
“We always end our extravaganza with Lou asking everyone to look around at each other, because next year some might not be here. We end this by saying ‘Hat’s off’ to all that have paved the way for us,” Claudia added.
Everyone had a fantastic time thanks to the gracious hospitality of Claudia, Lou and their family.
Have a fantastic week everyone!