At Ben and Mary Jacobson's wedding reception 26 years ago, the Savannah Rapids Pavilion's dance hall held its final twirling couples before closing and falling into disrepair.
Ben and Mary Jacobson celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary at the reopened dance pavilion at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion complex. They were the last people to rent the pavilion for their wedding 26 years ago and the first to rent it after it reopened.
Photo by Jonathan Heeter
On Saturday, the newly renovated dance pavilion reopened to its first party in decades - the celebration of the Johnson's 26th anniversary.
"It's real cool how that turned out," Mr. Johnson said. "(The pavilion) was pretty shot and wasn't safe, so they closed it after we used it. It was just a coincidence that we are reopening it with our party."
Mrs. Johnson said that her husband and friends had to do some construction on the dance pavilion 26 years ago just to use it.
"If we didn't do some work, someone might have fallen through the dance floor," Mrs. Johnson joked.
The dance pavilion's reopening was just one part of the near $1 million renovation project at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Also part of the project were restoring the Gatekeeper's Cottage, dining shed and a barbecue pit.
The Jacobsons, who live in Grovetown, didn't know or plan on being the first to use the pavilion. Mr. Jacobson said they just knew that the area was being renovated and put their names down three or four months ago to rent the pavilion. Being the first to open the pavilion was just icing on the anniversary cake.
The couple met at a party at Mr. Johnson's place. Some of the guys were shooting guns out in the woods and Mary out-shot Ben.
"That's the story she would tell you," Mr. Johnson said as he chuckled. "I don't think that is how it happened."
"It is an ongoing argument," Mrs. Johnson added.
The then 24-year-old Ben, from Michigan, and 20-year-old Mary, a Hephzibah High School graduate, married.
For Saturday's anniversary party, Ben, now 50, and Mary, 46, invited about half of the 50 guests who came to the wedding in 1978. They wanted to create a near-mirror image of the guest list from 26 years ago.
Mrs. Johnson called around and searched on the Internet to track down some of the wedding guests.
"This will give us a chance to see a lot of people we haven't kept in touch with," Ben said before the celebration. "That is very exciting."
Ben, a physical therapist at St. Joseph Hospital, and Mary, a leasing manager with Club Car, mingled with friends they haven't seen in a while during the anniversary party. Local jazz band Jazz Collective played for the couple as they broke in the remodeled dance pavilion.
Three guests who were not at the last celebration were able to attend this time - the couple's three children Tonya, Jason and Chris.
Ben and Mary Jacobson (seen in a photo from their wedding 26 years ago) recently celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary at the reopened dance pavilion at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion complex.
Tonya, 24, graduated from Augusta State University and Jason, 22, works for a editing company in Atlanta. Chris, 18, recently graduated from Greenbrier High School and will attend Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga. this fall.
"This is so much fun for them," Tonya said. "It is amazing that they were able to celebrate their anniversary at the same place 26 years later."
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