by Mel Fenson
It was a major event! Held in a large hangar at the Boulder Airport, the 2nd Annual 1940’s WWII Ball held Saturday June 19, 2010 attracted nearly 1,400 people this year. It had the aura of a real USO show - like those put on for the military, during WWII, and as the band played on, time seemed to have actually drifted back to the 1940’s.
The event honored WWII vets, including Boulder resident Col. Bill Bower, one of the last surviving "Doolittle Raiders," who flew twin engine B-25 bombers off of the carrier, USS Hornet, in a daring mission over Tokyo in April 1942, following the bombing by the Japanese of Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. (Read more about the Doolittle Raid)
The event was a National fly-in and the busy scene that surrounded the crowed hangar included many WWII military and other aircraft from that era, such as: a TBM Avenger, a T6 Texan, a Staggerwing, a Stearman Bi-plane, a Fairchild P-23, and a T-28. A navy pilot gave people a chance to climb up on the wing and look into the cockpit of the TBM Avenger carrier fighter. A B-25 Bomber was parked next to the hangar.
Army tanks, artillery pieces and other military vehicles, tents, and WWII military paraphanalia were also on display. Many people came dressed as military personnel in WWII uniforms. The U.S. 3rd Army’s General George S. Patton came to life again and made his patriotic entrance into the hangar standing on his 50-caliber machine gun armed jeep.
Adding excitement to the event, daring skydivers jumped from a WWII trainer and parachuted over the crowd thrilling onlookers as they unfurled a huge American flag.
Party goers danced to music from the 1930’ and 40’s played by, The Hot Tomatoes, a nine-piece big band. They played swing, dance music, and big band jazz., styled after the great jazz bands of that era, such as those of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and others, whose smooth sounding music once filled the air waves and was danced to at clubs and dance halls throughout the country.
Cigarette and candy girls in short red dresses and bellhop caps, carrying trays held by neck straps - like those at night clubs during the forties - strolled the area. Local photographers shot glamour photographs of beautiful women wearing 40’s style fashions and hair styles and men dressed in vintage attire, such as zoot suits, wide brim hats, wide ties and wing tip shoes - posed next to the WWII aircraft.
Meanwhile, back in the hangar, there was a USO style show going on with entertainers, who imitated famous personalities from the war days, such as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, the Andrews Sisters and Judy Garland. Derek Evilsizor did his impersonation of Frank Sinatra and a talented three-woman Andrews Sisters tribute act - Reveille 3, sang songs made famous by the Andrew sisters. Members of the group are: Anne Zinschlag , Christine Herivel, and Marnie Ward. They sang popular tunes from the 30’s and 40’s, such as: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Alexander's Ragtime Band, We'll Meet Again, Begin the Beguine, I'll Be Seeing You, Lullaby of Broadway, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, and Rum and Coca-Cola. Well known Rockin Robin was the emcee for the show.
Acrobatic aerial dancer, Brandy Dew, a member of the Aerial Dance Theater’s Frequent Flyers Productions of Boulder, brought gasps from the audience with her daring Spanish web dance high above the crowd - balancing from the hangar’s ceiling on silk strands - while the band played on. Burlesque star, Peggy Tulane, also entertained the audience. The Boulder Swing Dance club put on a demonstration with fancy footwork as they jitterbugged and “cut-the -rug.”
WWII radio announcements were made over the loud speaker, including the proclamation announcing the end of the war. The exhuburant crowd danced the night away until midnight!
WWI ball was staged by T. Khyentse (pronounced Kentsie) James
who is the founder and producing director of the event. She is also the director of the Chicago Decibelle Music and Culture Festival.
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