ST. GEORGE —An evening of dancing, nostalgia and reverence for those whose military service saved the free world set the mood as the Western Sky Warbird Aviation Museum hosts its 7th annual 1940s Hangar Dance this Saturday at 6 p.m. Funds raised from the dance go toward the museum, located at 4196 S. Airport Parkway in St. George.
“I’m always amazed and inspired by everyone who attends,” Jack Hunter, founder and director of the Western Sky Aviation Warbirds Museum, said in a press release announcing the event. “People from many age groups, from teenagers interested in swing dance all the way up to World War II veterans, attend the Hangar Dance and soak in the atmosphere.”
There will be prizes for the best 1940s costumes and vintage aircraft on display, and the Southern Utah Rebel Jazz Band will play hits from the stars of the World War II era. St. George Swing Dance will perform 1940s-style dances, including their always-popular Andrews Sisters’ routine. The Hangar Dance as grown from 90 attendees in 2013 to 350 in 2018.
“There are tickets available, but you do not want to wait too long,” Hunter said. “This event has sold out the last two years.”
More than 16 million American soldiers, sailors and airmen served during World War II, the deadliest conflict in recorded history. Seventy-five years later, it’s easy to see how the events of 1944 proved pivotal for Allied forces. In the Pacific, American forces fighting in Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian and Leyte tightened the noose on Japan. Meanwhile across the globe, the Allies assaulted Normandy, France, on what is known as D-Day, before its long slog to Germany’s doorstep. The year ended with the surprise German counterattack in the Ardennes Forest, better known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Of those brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who made up those forces, less than 500,000 remain alive today. Years ago, longtime NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw tabbed them “The Greatest Generation.”
To show appreciation, the museum invites all World War II veterans to attend the dance for free – they may each bring one guest. The veterans will be recognized at the dance.
“It is so important to honor these World War II veterans. Time is growing short,” event volunteer Rebecca Edwards said in the press release. “We owe these veterans our freedom and we hope that many can attend. We understand that they may not be able to dance at their age, but they can delight in the music and great company. And of course, it is a tradition that the World War II veterans receive a kiss on the cheek from one of the swing dance performers.”
Tickets are $20 per person if purchased by Friday. Tickets can be bought at the museum Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or purchased online here.
If any remaining tickets are available on the day of the dance, the cost will be $25 per person.
The Hangar Dance serves as part two of a commemoration of Armed Forces Day, intended to honor all members of the military who have served. The first part is the Wings and Wheels event, which goes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes vintage aircraft and classic cars, military displays and a flyby of a Korean War era MiG-15.
Tickets to Wings and Wheels are $5 and can be purchased at the gate. Children 17 and under and active-duty personnel are free. Those interested can pay a fee to ride in a WWII T-6 Texan.