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Dancers set to step back in time to honour vets, aid good cause

'We are hoping that people who love to dance or simply like to listen to a good band will come,' says organizer of event that will aid food bank, Loonie Lunch

The Orillia Big Band is sending dancers back in time to the 1940s with a Maple Leaf Club Revival. 

On Saturday, Sept. 10 from 7 p.m. till 10 p.m., a dance will take place in the ballroom at St. James’ Anglican Church where soldiers, often while on leave, would attend dances during the Second World War.

“The Maple Leaf Club was a place where soldiers could go to write letters home and on weekends go to a dance,” explained Randy Hoover, one of the organizers of the event and director of The Orillia Big Band.

Hoover says while more than 2,000 soldiers were undergoing basic training just outside of town during the war, Orillia and St. James’ Anglican Church often served as a place of comfort.

“There were over 100 soldiers here dancing with 100 women from Orillia,” he said. “It sounds funny, but it really happened.”

Orillia’s Branch 34 of the Royal Canadian Legion has lent out flags, uniforms, and vintage items for the dance.

“It’s important that this dance honours the contributions of our veterans,” Hoover said.

The dance will benefit The Sharing Place Food Centre and the Loonie Lunch which happens at St. James' every Wednesday at noon.

The Orillia Big Band is excited to perform at the tribute dance to honour the band's roots, said Hoover. Originally named, The Orillia Little Big Band, the local group is named after the dance bands that were comprised of anywhere from four to eight musicians in the 1940s due to the war, but would grow over time as dances became larger and more sound was needed.

“We will be providing music mainly from the ‘50s, ’40s, and maybe even ‘30s,” Hoover said. “Pieces from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and all those big bands that were popular during the war that people may remember or may have heard multiple times on the radio or from their parents' records.”

Hoover is looking forward to seeing dance attendees break out into the Foxtrot, Waltz, Swing, and Cha Cha.

“We are hoping that people who love to dance or simply like to listen to a good band will come,” he said.

Tickets are $30 per person which includes the dance, an evening luncheon, and a chance to win some "great" door prizes contributed from local businesses.

“A lot of people will walk away with a fairly decent prize,” Hoover said.

Tickets can be purchased by emailing Hoover at [email protected] or you can call him at 705-345-3353.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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