Swing music and support for the nation’s military are on the agenda Saturday, Oct. 5.

The Dukes of Swing will perform at the Fort Columbia Theater in Chinook, Wash.

The family friendly event runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is hosted by the Peninsula Association of Performing Artists.

The $20 admission fee covers hors d’oeuvres and desserts provided by local businesses.

PAPA, a theater troupe based on the Long Beach Peninsula, most recently concluded a five-week run of its 2019 musical “Mary Poppins” in the same theater.

The seating Oct 5 will be rearranged to encourage dancing.

Swing band

The Dukes of Swing is a big band affiliated with the Elks Lodge No. 593 of Aberdeen, Washington, where it returns for monthly dances each last Thursday. It specializes in patriotic tunes and music from the 1940s and 1950s.

Its members feature longtime Grays Harbor County and Olympia, Washington, musicians, including several high school music teachers and their former students who are now adults. Over the years, some band members have been known to continue performing into their 90s.

Bill Newman, band manager, has been with the group for 40 years and still plays the alto saxophone. He said the music from the era of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman delights him and other members. “The guys wouldn’t be in the band if they didn’t love it,” he said. “When you are done playing a dance, you feel good.”

Giving back

The theater troupe feels similarly.

"Six years ago, PAPA wanted to find a way to ‘give back’ as an organization,” said Vice-President Angela Grote. “The Dukes of Swing band was known to some of our members and was mentioned as a possibility for reaching out to the community.

“We feel the big-band sound transcends age groups — it is fun, energetic, and brings back memories for many people, young and old.”

Money raised will be donated to the Don R. Grable American Legion Post No. 48 in Ilwaco. Ron Robbins, immediate past commander, said his group appreciates PAPA’s contributions.

“The funds go to help needy veterans,” he said. “Sometimes we have vets who cannot make their winter light bill or cannot pay their rent.”

The Legion works year-round to assist veterans who live or visit the Long Beach Peninsula. Longtime Ilwaco Legion leader Dick Wallace is plugged into other community groups which helps identify those in need. “We do what we can to help where we can,” said Robbins.

For Grote and fellow theater group members, the evening is doubly rewarding.

“This is probably our favorite event of the year,” she said, “because it is our opportunity to say ‘thank-you’ to the community for their support of us throughout the year with a fun night of music, dance and food — all while raising money to benefit our local veterans who have done so much for all of us.”

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