LIMA — Lima’s canteen was central to American history.

Known for its Lima Locomotive Works, Lima also made history with the oldest World War II railroad canteen in the country. It operated from 1942 to 1970 and served meals to four million American servicemen during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

For its belated 50th anniversary, the Lima Area Concert Band (LACB) will perform “The Stage Door Canteen: A Tribute to World War II” on Saturday at the Civic Center. The venue will attempt to recreate that era and that feeling. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., food will be served at 6:30 p.m., and the band will start playing at 7:30 p.m.

Atmosphere, music and dance

According to Angie Herzog, who helped oversee the event, an authentic parachute will be draped over the group, tables will feature patriotic red, white and blue decorations and a 3-minute video on the history of the military canteen free from Lima featuring images curated by Charles Bates at the Allen County Museum will be featured.

Cassie Collins will perform a vocal solo, “Embraceable You”, by George and Ira Gershwin.

“The Betties and Belles,” dancers from the Columbus swing band, will speak during LACB performances of “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “In the Mood.” Audiences can dance along to other favorite songs, like “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”, and “Someone to Watch Over Me”.

Tank Abrams

During World War I, trench warfare dominated land-based strategic defense initiatives, but became obsolete when the tank was invented. In 1940, the assembly line of the army tank factory in Lima came out of the first Abrams, which became a powerful force in World War II against the German Panthers and Tigers. The Joint Systems Manufacturing Center has created the Abrams M1A2SEP V2 Half Pint, a 1/2 scale version of the battle tank that will be on display at the event.

World War II re-enactors

Bluffton-based World War II re-enactors will be outfitted in authentic period uniforms and equipment. They will demonstrate WWII military telephones and a hand-cranked generator.

confetti cannon

The Lima Area Concert Band will conclude the evening, as they do in many of their shows, with “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa. A cannon will shoot confetti.

Honorary tribute

James R. (Randy) Soules of the Lima Area Concert Band was a man with a vision. He wrote a 15-page proposal, the master plan, but died before it became a reality. Souls was fascinated by the era. According to his obituary, “If you knew Randy, you know he was passionate about a lot of things: old war movies, setting up epic battles with his little army green men, the TV show MASH (he could recite every line).”

“He really set it all up, so we’re doing it in his honor,” said Anne Decker, who worked with Souls on this project.

Over 400 tickets have already been sold. The cost of tickets is $25 and includes dinner, except for students (including college students) who are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at the Civic Center box office or online at This event is included for subscription holders.

The Abrams M1A2SEP V2 Half Pint, seen here during its unveiling in Lima in 2018, will be on display during the Stage Door Canteen performance.

Contact Shannon Bohle at 567-242-0399, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bohle_LimaNews.