Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Celebrate the End of World War II in Period Style at West Overton

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Celebrate the End of World War II in Period Style at West Overton

Article excerpt

If you're looking to party like it's 1949, swing by West Overton Village for the World War II Victory Ball dinner dance on Saturday.

Meet Rosie the Riveter, snap a picture in a 1942 Ford jeep and jitterbug to a live big band playing tunes by Glenn Miller, Doris Day and Frank Sinatra at the museums' Big Barn in East Huntingdon, Westmoreland County. From 5:30 to 8 p.m., there's also dinner, an open bar and an exhibition celebrating the war effort at home and overseas.

World War II veterans get in free, other military pay $30, and family and friends of the Greatest Generation pay $40. Proceeds will boost educational programs and school visits to this complex honoring America's industrial history at the birthplace of Henry Clay Frick.

The Victory Ball was the idea of Aaron Hollis, West Overton's education director. "Everybody's invited to dress the part," said the Scottdale native and resident.

Although he had grandfathers in the war - one was a cook in the Army - Mr. Hollis' interest in World War II was sparked by his fourth grade teacher, the late Donald Fox. While organizing the event, one of Mr. Hollis' first calls was to another former teacher, Jay Copenhaver.

Mr. Copenhaver also happens to be the manager, trumpeter and vocalist for the Wally Gingers Orchestra, which bills itself as Western Pennsylvania's only remaining original big band from the '40s. His wife, Clare, is the drummer and daughter of the band's founder, whose real name was George Tajc.

A music teacher at Connellsville High School, Mr. Tajc was a vocalist and tenor saxophonist who put his swing band on hiatus while he and his bandmates served in World War II. After the war, the Wally Gingers Orchestra played ballrooms in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago and had a radio show on ABC.

Mrs. Copenhaver, who began playing with the band when she was 13, ended it when her father died in 1990. Twelve years ago, when someone asked to buy his original music and arrangements, her husband persuaded her to resurrect the band. The 10-piece big band plays 20 to 30 gigs a year, focusing on the music of the 1940s and '50s. At the Victory Ball, they'll honor Doris Day, who died Monday, with a tribute and her song "Everybody Loves a Lover." And the singer will be .. Rosie the Riveter.

Yes, Alyssa Bruno of Apollo will portray the fictional factory worker whose strong right arm inspired Americans during the war. …

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