By MARK TODD - firstname.lastname@example.org
For several hours on Wednesday, an assisted living center in Conneaut took a step back to the 1940s.
The sights, sounds and tastes of the era visited the Villa on the Lake as part of a preview of the D-Day re-enactment at Township Park on Friday and Saturday. Vintage vehicles, World War II-era displays and other activities whisked residents and visitors back to another era.
Deanna Fleischmann, the Villa’s assistant director and marketing director, said the event was held to give residents unable to make it to the park a chance to participate. On Wednesday, the Villa was packed with displays, musicians and military and civilian re-enactors who mingled with the crowd. Staff got into the spirit of the event, wearing garb appropriate to the times. In the parking lot was a collection of classic cars and military vehicles.
Some residents got into the act, too, including Joanie Follette, 80, who was clad as Rosie the Riveter. “My daughter Melissa and I talked it over, and we made this dress,” Follette said.
A highlight of the day was a recognition ceremony for residents and guests who served in World War II, who were introduced and given American flag lapel pins by volunteers with the Hospice of the Western Reserve.
“Our flag led our men into battle,” Bill Warner, a Hospice volunteer, told the crowd.
Warner and other veterans in the room also gave the World War II vets a salute. “Two words veterans never hear are ‘thank you,’” he said.
Fleischmann also expressed gratitude to the veterans for their service.
“We’re so proud to have all our vets here today,” she said. “Thanks for all you’ve done.”
The re-enactment, an annual event since 1999, will feature nearly 1,000 re-enactors from across the country and a wide array of military hardware, including a B-25 bomber and a 1944 Sherman tank. Visitors are welcome to tour the Allied and Axis encampments, look at displays and talk to participants.
Three battles will be held over the two days, capped by an amphibious assault starting at 3 p.m. Saturday. Organizers expect more than 20,000 will visit the Lake Road park this weekend. Parking will be available at free shuttle lots in the area (follow signs) or along side streets.