Those driving between Backus and Pine River one recent the afternoon of Aug. 9 at precisely the right time of day may have been surprised to see a big group of aliens waving from the side of the road.
There is a 10- to 15-minute window each year when Missy Smieja and her extended family (around 70 people this year) gather together, dress to a specific theme and wave to those driving by. Last year’s theme was hippies.
For as many as 25 years the Fuchs family has been gathering at the home of Smieja’s mother, Chelle Green. Not long ago, the gathering took place in Hackensack. But following the passing of Green’s husband, Dale, in 2008, she moved to her home between Pine River and Backus, and the family reunion moved with her.
This year was a special year after Green was diagnosed with cancer, providing all the more reason for her family to come together and celebrate with her yet again.
“It made everyone very happy to have this closeness between all of our families and everyone knows that we always have each other for support,” Smieja said. “The Fuchs family reunion will last forever as far as we are all concerned. The next generation is starting to learn how to cook the garbage can dinner and so we know that it will last.”
In addition to dressing according to a theme for the first day of their annual weekend reunion, the group also hosts a “garbage can dinner,” where they cook ears of corn, potatoes, brats and other picnic fare in a 30-gallon garbage can, one of few receptacles big enough to feed the alien horde.
Family comes from all over, though many of them travel from Rochester and Byron. This year’s costumes included classic little green men, “Saturday Night Live’s” cone heads, and Superman.