There are big things in store for the Central Florida World War II Museum: interactive exhibits featuring the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge as they would have been seen and experienced by soldiers in 1944 and '45; a well-organized area showcasing a collection of helmets, uniforms, medals, insignia, equipment, weapons, photographs, scrapbooks and other veteran memorabilia paired with personal history and video interviews; and on the grounds surrounding the museum, living history displays with military vehicle demonstrations and historical re-enactors.
Of course, none of these grand plans can become reality without a little (or a lot) of funding.
This Saturday, the historic Gulfport Casino Ballroom hosts the museum's first fundraiser, Seaside Swing, a 1940s-themed swing dance featuring the live, big band sounds of the 18-member Ten O'Clock Band. In order to keep everyone in step, Sam and Allison from Swing Time lead a swing dance lesson from 8 to 9 p.m., and later in the evening, present a swing dance revue showcasing the talents of some Bay area swing dancers. Authentic re-enactors mingle with guests and show the different types of uniforms and equipment used by the average soldier in World War II, a selection of WWII relics are displayed, and if everything goes according to plan, a few military vehicles might be parked in front of the casino.
Attendees are encouraged to dress up in military or civilian fashions of the '40s era.
Seaside Swing, 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Sat., Aug. 26, 5500 Shore Blvd. S., Gulfport, $40 per person, 727-893-1070, www.cfloridaww2museum.org.