Sunday, February 25, 2018
Events

Military museum plans improvements, more fun at USO-style show

LARGO — If you like swing music and dancing the night away, put on your dancing shoes. Friday, the Stars and Stripes USA Spirit of America Show returns to the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo.

Tributes to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald have been added to this year's lineup. And returning for a second year is the 10 O'Clock Swing Band Orchestra, a 19-piece swing band.

"We are thankful of being invited back to the military museum and of their support of the big band sound in the Tampa Bay area," said 10 O'Clock's band leader and manager, Joe Bonelli.

This is the second year for the event at the museum, and some changes are being made thanks to feedback from last year's attendees.

For example, the VIP buffet dinner will start at 6 p.m., allowing time to eat before general admission begins at 7:30. Those VIP tickets also include reserved seating around another new feature, a stage for performers.

"Last year, we had the singers and band at the end of the room," said Cindy Bosselmann, director of marketing and promotional events. "Because of the feedback from last year, we've moved them to the center of the museum and up on a stage."

About 350 people enjoyed the USO atmosphere at Stars and Stripes last year. This year, 200 extra chairs will be set up and 25 more VIP tickets will be available, bringing that number up to 100. To set up for the event, the museum will close at 1 p.m. Friday.

Adding more fun to the night will be a red carpet welcome complete with vintage attire, paparazzi, World War II re-enactors from the First Infantry Division, show hostesses, and a night at the museum. This year some volunteer escorts leading people in the door will be youths from the Naval Sea Cadet Corps in the Tampa Bay area.

Two full cash bars will be open. And keep an eye out for the famous nonsinging blasts from the past, Captain America and Veronica Lake.

While this event honors a bygone era, it pays homage to and supports past, present and future generations. Proceeds benefit the Armed Forces History Museum's community outreach, youth educational and veteran programs and the museum, dedicated to preserving military history.

"There is so much to see and hear," said Bosselmann. "People had so much fun last year. There's such a spirit to the evening. It's a feel-good event that really brings you back to the 1940s."

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