Members of the Jackson community and residents at the Louisiana War Veterans Home came together for an evening of music, dancing and comedy at the second annual USO Dance on Nov. 22.
Held in the spirit of camp shows and entertainers from the United Service Organizations, which was founded in 1941 to lift the spirits of troops and their families during WWII by providing morale and recreational services to military personnel, the USO event in Jackson featured a 40s big band, comedic skits and plenty of dancing, according to Beth Dawson, of Jackson.
The USO Dance was held to benefit planned construction for the Feliciana Veterans Memorial, according to Dawson.
Big band music by Rosie and the Swinging Riveters included Tracey Ardoin as vocalist, band leader Robert Reynolds on drums and vocals, Jordan DeWitt on bass, Cary Griffin on trumpet, Alan Honeysucker on trumpet, Kelly Kemp on piano, Richard Kilpatrick on trombone, Perry Roth on saxophone and Jim Wilson on saxophone.
Dawson said the The Swinging Riveters donated their performance to the fundraiser.
“Everyone really enjoyed listening to big band performance, especially the veterans who fought in World War II,” Dawson noted.
Between sets, comedic skits were performed by some members of the band including Ardoin as Frances Langford and Reynolds as Les Moore. Others performed including Michael Verett as Ken Niles, Susan Burdette as Elvia Niles, Miranda Reynolds as Blondie Bumstead, Aaron Heltz as Dagwood Bumstead, Chris Verrett as Joe the stage manager, and Toni Bennett, who portrayed Lily, the stage hand.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jim Hendrickson, who served in Vietnam, portrayed Col. Steve Canyon and emceed the event.
“This special event was sponsored by the Louisiana War Veterans Home and the Jackson Tourism Enhancement Committee,” Dawson said.
Connie Landry, of Clinton, catered the event with muffalettas, cupcakes and other refreshments, and Trabona’s donated a tray of sandwiches.
Door prizes and awards were won by Charlotte Reynolds for best costume, and Julia Adams and Cara Campo for having the best dance moves. Adams received a decorative sled and Christmas card holder from state Rep. Kenny Havard’s office, while Campo won a gift bag of Mary Kay cosmetics from Cynthia Beauvais.
“War Veterans Home administrator Jon Salter and his staff are to be commended for hosting this event, sending out invitations, decorating, setting up the stage and arranging for the band,” Dawson said.