North Platte Canteen Festival
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North Platte Canteen Festival
On December 17, 1941, North Platte residents gathered at the Union Pacific Depot because they heard that a troop train carrying their own boys would be coming through. When the train stopped, everyone was stunned. None of their boys were to be found, but instead soldiers from Kansas were packed in tight. After a moment of disbelief, one person stepped forward and gave their presents to the troops. These men were not familiar, but they were someone’s sons, and it was Christmas time. Everyone else soon followed. The amazement and happiness expressed by the soldiers at receiving these gifts sparked an idea in a young woman’s mind. Rae Wilson penned a simple letter to the editor asking North Platte to follow the lead of their ancestors in World War I by opening a Canteen at the depot to serve the military persons passing through. Little did she know, she would be starting an endeavor that would last for 54 months, involve 12,000 volunteers, and serve more than 6 million service men and women with food, drinks, gifts, and much needed kindness.
The North Platte Canteen was one of the largest volunteer efforts of World War II. North Platte became famous. Even on the battlefield, men would say, “How’d you like to have some of that food from the North Platte Canteen right about now?”
When an impact like that has been made, it is important to keep that story and heritage alive.
We would like to invite the community to join us for the First Annual North Platte Canteen Festival this December. To honor the selflessness that started so many Decembers ago by joining our neighbors in the newly revitalized Canteen District seems like the perfect reason to gather. With events highlighting the patriotism, volunteerism, and discovery of the World War II Canteen, this festival is sure to not only spread holiday joy but to keep this amazing chapter of North Platte’s history alive!
The Christmas Canteen Festival will be held
Saturday, December 18th, 2021
A Sentimental Musical Journey 2:00pm
This performance will take you through the music of the World War II era, celebrating a mistake which turned into one of history’s largest wartime volunteer efforts: The North Platte Canteen. Come get “In the Mood” with North Platte’s own Glenn Miller style big band and vocalists who will “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
Advance tickets for “A Sentimental Musical Journey” will be $18 for adults and $10 for students, and tickets purchased the day of will be $20 for adults and $12 for students.
Whistle Stop Stories 7:30pm
During the North Platte World War II Canteen over six million service members were served. Stories of the generosity, hardship, and kindness that those involved in the North Platte Canteen endured are showcased in this moving production that will transport you back in time.
Advance tickets for “Whistle Stop Stories” will be $18 for adults and $10 for students, and tickets purchased the day of will be $20 for adults and $12 for students.
Both events will be held at the North Platte Community Playhouse and will have concessions and alcoholic beverages available for purchase.
Proceeds will be donated to the Lincoln County Historical Museum to further their World War II Canteen exhibit which will continue to spread this story of volunteerism and patriotism for generations to come.