Big Band gets swinging

Vets dance to tunes from yesteryear


Hazel Recinos

Tamara and Jerry Smith dance to the live band.

Kirsten Haun, Staff Writer

Lively music filled the air as the Heritage Jazz Band kicked off the night playing tunes that swayed people to the dance floor Wednesday, April 17. The event was called the Big Band Dance Party and it was held from 6-9 p.m. to commemorate the third year since establishing the Veterans Resource Center at Los Medanos College.

For the United Service Organization theme, the Recital Hall at LMC campus was decorated with red white and blue stars and stripes accompanied by posters of iconic fliers from the World War II era.

LMC President Bob Kratochvil described the event as “a remarkable event [that was] well planned by faculty and staff.”  

There was, however, a parking snafu at the beginning when some visitors were ticketed by campus police.

“There was a miscommunication between the music department and campus security about parking,” said event volunteer Jenna Rodriguez. “[Parking enforcement] weren’t notified about the free parking.” Rodriguez dealt with the matter promptly.

One of the organizers of the event Frank Dorritie announced to the crowd, “If you got a ticket, bring it to me and I’ll fix it,” following with a remark of gratitude. “We are grateful for you being here.”

The rest of the event went off without a hitch.  “It was a huge success,” said Co-adviser of the Veterans Club and Resource Center Diane Ferguson. “I am very proud that we were able to entertain some of the area’s oldest vets,” Ferguson said.

The Martinez Veterans Affairs center brought out veterans that served in wars dating all the way back to World War II.  

Anthony Archimedes, a veteran himself, but also a volunteer for the Martinez VA, speaks for those that were unable to speak for themselves.  “You have no idea what this does for us,” Archimedes explained.

Events like the Big Band Dance Party gives veterans something to talk about and provides more than just giving them the basic needs to live, according to Archimedes. It ultimately enhances the quality of their life.

The veterans watched from the front row at reserved tables as the many events the night held unfolded.  

Beginning with music from Heritage Jazz Band, the dance floor filled with over 50 people for a swing dance lesson followed by the Golden Gate Radio Orchestra providing upbeat tempos for the dance and costume competition.  

Big prizes were awarded to the winners who put in noticeable effort. Joe Tompkinson won first place prize of a patio set donated by the Home Depot for the costume contest.  

“I actually really wanted it now that the weather is nice,” Tompkinson said.  

Even though Tompkinson had been putting it together for 6 months he still wasn’t super confident in his G.I. Joe costume’s ability to win.

“Everyone had a wonderful time,” Ferguson said. “I’m very proud that we were able to entertain some of the areas oldest vets.”