If you were at the Operation Celebration weekend in 2009, you most likely were downtown for the World War II re-enactors’ Raid on Peabody. Members of the World War II History Center in El Dorado faced off as soldiers of both the U. S. and German forces in a skirmish to take the 100 block of North Walnut. People lined the streets to watch as GIs captured the west side of the block from a nest of Nazi snipers.
It was interesting and exciting. Personally, my favorite part was when the thoroughly modern couple stepped out of Ambleside Antiques midbattle and found themselves transported back to a small European town being liberated from the Germans in about 1944. The soldiers were shooting blanks, of course, but the noise was ferocious and the couple froze right outside the antique store door as the battle raged around them.
My son-in-law, What’s His Name, who is the Main Street director had gone into every store in the business district to warn proprietors and customers of what was on tap as the next event. Somehow, this couple missed the memo and found themselves in war-torn Europe during a brief turf battle.
I bet they haven’t forgotten their day in Peabody!
Alan Cooley and his WWII group will be back this year with a larger supporting cast. Instead of a simple Raid on Peabody, the unit will this time be involved in a Siege on Peabody. It promises to be a bigger battle with more action. You won’t want to miss it.
There are plans for an overnight camp at Santa Fe Park on Friday, with soldiers going about their tasks as they did in impromptu camps all over Europe during the war.
The re-enactors do a good job. They wear authentic uniforms and use the same guns and equipment as my dad and his fellow soldiers did in the 1940s. They will be available for you to talk to at the camp from Friday evening until Saturday night. They all know a great deal about the soldiers they portray, the war itself, and the Greatest Generation.
The History Center also will have an exhibit of WWII memorabilia in the north side of the American Legion. A medical unit will be on display on the grassy area just south of Peabody Market parking lot. There will be window displays in downtown businesses and a Veterans Roll Call in one downtown window featuring pictures of veterans from many conflicts.
The Siege on Peabody will take place at 3 p.m. followed by the Victory Parade down Walnut Street at 4 p.m. What’s His Name has lined up that fabulous biplane pilot who whirled and looped all up and down the parade route last year. Good grief … what could be better than that?
There is no admission charge, but we would love it if you would buy a T-shirt or a commemorative pin to help us keep this celebration going. There is a charge for the breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they will be worth the price. Peabody Main Street invites everyone to come back downtown Sunday evening for a free band concert and ice cream social, featuring cake and ice cream and the Senseney Music Community Band.
There is a lot to see and do at Operation Celebration 2010. Most of it is free or available at a minimal charge. Come join us as we celebrate and honor the men and women who kept the world free.
— Susan Marshall