Saturday, April 13, 2013

WWII Weekend Participants and a Few Small Schedule Changes

With the World War II Weekend upon us (it is next weekend, April 20-21/raindate 4/27-28) things have been pretty busy here on the organizing end. Our team, lead by Beth MacCausland and Marie Cherry, has put together a weekend stuffed full of things to see and do. We published the schedule back in February and things have remained more or less the same with just a few small changes: the flag raising ceremony on both days will be at 10:30 instead of right when we open at 10, and on Sunday, the U.S. Army Band was not able to make it, so in their time slot at 1:30 we'll be featuring Mickey and Stanley Goldfarber, who will be serenading you with favorite Patriotic and military tunes.

Central to the event are of course the reenactment units and historians. These guys (and some gals) have made a hobby out of collecting period uniforms and other militaria, as well as background information on the period and their units, so they can dress and act the part of WWII soldiers, sailors, other military personnel and 1940s civilians. You'll see men in American and German uniforms with appropriate camp set-ups, vehicles, and other accoutrements, and portrayals of British and Russians too. Some of these guys will fight in a mock-battle, including bringing in a tank, and others will be doing living history demonstrations of camp life and setting up a military hospital.

So far we've confirmed the following units will be participating, and there may be more:

WWII Reenactment Units—Americans

35th Infantry Division Recon (host unit)
1st Infantry Division
4th Armored Division
5th Rangers
9th Infantry WWII Historical Preservation Society
101st Airborne E. Company
103rd Infantry Division
Red Ball Express
110th Medical Battalion
517th PRCT

WWII Reenactment Units—Germans
5th S.S.
9th S.S.
35th Infantry Division
45th Infanterie Division

WWII Reenactment Units—Others
British Paratroopers
135th Rifles Regiment
193rd Red Army Rifle Division

In addition to the reenactment going on, there will be tons of displays and other interactive activities:

Aces Museum, located in Philadelphia, houses the restored Parker Hall, which was a functional USO for Black Soldiers and their Families in the 1940s. They get their name from the “Spades” of the era, but honor all Veterans. They are a Veterans' Service Organization and site of the National Associate of Black Veterans, Philadelphia (NABVET). They'll be putting on a puppet show and letting people know about the work they do.

Other Veterans' organizations that will be on hand include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with information on health care and other benefits for vets, Honor Flight, who provide free tours to veterans to visit and reflect at their memorials in Washington, DC, and the Liberty USO of Pennsyvlania and Southern New Jersey, who provide comfort, care and support to the troops and their families.

John Alosi, Jr. author of War Birds: A History of the 282nd Signal Pigeon Company will be on hand to sell and sign his books and will have a period pigeon trailer, complete with pigeons, for visitors to see as they learn about the role carrier pigeons played in WWII. The Harold F. Pitcairn Wings of Freedom Museum will also have an interactive display, in the form of partial WWII-era plane that visitors can tour. The ladies from Historical Military Impressions will be running a recruitment stand, and pin-up models will be greeting visitors and circulating in the crowd. We'll also have various car collectors and enthusiasts with their 1940s era military and civilian vehicles.

The musical entertainment we have lined up includes the Society Music Makers on Saturday playing swing favorites from the 1940s, and Mickey and Stanley Goldfarber on Sunday with Patrotic and military songs. Before Saturday's swing concert, Vince Masciarelli, a dance instructor from Glenside, will be showing you the moves to get you out on the dance floor. Both days will  begin with a flag raising and singing of the National Anthem by Jenny Pappas.

Of course the weekend wouldn't be complete without honoring the men and women who actually served in WWII: we'll have a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, Pearl Harbor survivors, and veterans of the European and Asian theaters on hand to tell you about their experiences - some have even written books. We'll also be honoring veterans of all wars with a lighting of luminaries and reading of their names by Representatives Tom Murt and Todd Stephens on Saturday and a dedication of a memorial on Sunday. Both honorariums will be accompanied by presentations by the Honor and Color Guards and a gun salute.

If you're coming, the event runs from 10-5 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sunday. The cost for adults is $10/day or $15 for the weekend. The cost for teens 13-17 and seniors 65+ is $5/day and the event is free for children 12 and under, veterans and current service personnel.

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