The committee for the Kern County WWII Veterans Memorial has had a busy past few months. Since the groundbreaking for the memorial in May, the group has been hard at work lining up fundraisers to reach its $500,000 goal.
Time is of the essence since the memorial is slated to open by Veterans Day in Jastro Park, allowing the aging veterans it intends to honor the chance to appreciate it.
With the first phase of construction (landscaping) due to begin by early next week, the committee is celebrating and raising funds with a USO Show Night on Saturday.
Mayde Hurley, board secretary for the nonprofit, said she had the idea for the night of retro entertainment based on a similar event she had organized at the retirement community where she works.
Organizers were able to connect with Stars Theatre Restaurant, whose board was interested in teaming up for a charity night.
“They really liked the USO theme,” Hurley said. “They’re looking to build those relationships of community helping community.”
Organizers had to act quickly when they found out the open spot on the calendar was in July.
Tapping some Stars-affiliated talent and other patriotic performers, they developed the lineup for the evening of period-themed bands/music, singers, performing acts and dancing honoring the Greatest Generation.
Performers, who are all volunteering their time, include Caley Mayhall, who will perform “God Bless America”; singer Bethany Rowlee; dancer Kristen Doolittle McLaughlin; American Dancers Workshop students, who will do a tap dance; an Andrews Sisters tribute act; and a performance of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” comedy routine to “bring everybody back into that era,” Hurley said.
Members of the California Pinups and Patriots and local pageant title holders will assist with the event including the silent auction, which will include a birthday party at a local fire station and a ride along with the crime unit, Hurley said.
A raffle will also be held featuring items such as a gun safe, barbecue grill set and gift basket from 88.3 Life FM.
Dan Schaffer, host of “A Light in the Night” on 88.3, will emcee the event.
After the performances and auction, guests, who are encouraged to come dressed in era-appropriate garb, can take to the dance floor and cut a rug.
The event will also give committee members a chance to get the word out about the next fundraising events: a car show on Sept. 4 at 1933 and a fundraiser night at Bakersfield Speedway on Oct. 8.
With about $250,000 raised, including $30,000 from a golf tournament last month, the committee is working hard to complete its goal. For more information and how you can help, visit kerncountywwiimemorial.com.
Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.