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Dunedin event commemorates end of World War II

DUNEDIN

It was the smooch seen around the world.

On Aug. 14, 1945, as jubilant crowds in Times Square in New York celebrated the news that World War II had ended, a sailor noticed a woman in a white uniform, spun her, dipped her, and planted a kiss on her lips. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt clicked away.

Today, the Dunedin Historical Museum celebrates the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender and the iconic photo that captured the joy of the end of the war with a block party, "Victory on Main Street," from 4:30 to 8 p.m. The city will close down Main Street between Broadway and the Pinellas Trail, and will select a couple to re-enact "the kiss" at 5:51 p.m., the precise time when the sailor and nurse locked lips.

That's just the foreplay.

Surrounded by 1940s themed décor and cars, the chosen couple will have their photo taken for a mock cover of Life magazine. The Dunedin Historical Museum has a nurse and a sailor outfit on hand should the selected couple need one.

As part of the event, the Blur night club will be transformed into a "USO Club" with red, white and blue trappings. The Cadillac Bombers will help the crowd get their boogie-woogie on with swing dance music. Free victory shots will be served to veterans and active military with an ID.

Admission to the block party and the USO Club is by wristband — $10 per person or $15 for a couple. Should it rain, the event will be moved inside the Blur.

Dress in your '40s best. Those in period costume will be encouraged to be part of the background for the re-enactment photo. Revelers may choose to have their own photo taken for their own personalized Life cover photo at a cost of $12.

Tonight is also the downtown's Second Friday Art and Wine Walk, entitling the wristband wearers to discounts and wine tastings at participating restaurants and other merchants.

They also get free admission to see the nearby Dunedin Historical Museum's World War II exhibit — Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County and World War II, which commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Regular admission is $3.

"For a small community, we were highly involved in the war effort," said Vinnie Luisi, the museum's executive director. "Over 28 million cans of citrus concentrate were shipped (from Dunedin) to Europe during the war so the Allied Forces could maintain their vitamin C. Dunedin was the testing ground for Donald Roeb­ling's Alligator tank and also an important training ground for the Marines."

Luisi said they made the decision to pay tribute to veterans now, rather than waiting for the big 75.

"Our veterans are in their 80s and 90s and we are losing between 4,000 and 5,000 a week in this country," he said. "They may not be around for the 75th."

Contact Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

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