In scenes reminiscent of battles fought in the Netherlands and Low Countries almost 80 years ago, German and Allied troops will invade Crestview over Labor Day weekend and fight periodic skirmishes in Spanish Trail Park.
But don’t worry, this is all a reenactment! The event is sponsored by Crestview’s Cultural Services Division, Living History Corps, and Historic Preservation Board. This marks the fourth WWII event in the city since the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019.
Named “Race to the Rhein,” this year’s reenactment weekend will focus on the Allies’ sweep across Europe three months after the D-Day landings. Their mission was to liberate the Low Countries, deny German occupiers access to key ports in the Netherlands, and cross the Rhein into the heart of Germany.
One of the campaign’s most famous assaults, Operation Market Garden, will be prominently depicted during the event. Remember the star-studded 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far”?
- Well, that movie showcases this ambitious and daring operation, where Allied forces attempted to liberate Dutch bridges and towns. Though it didn’t secure a bridgehead over the Rhein River, it led to the liberation of several Dutch towns.
The event organizers, Grant Brooks and Andrew Daigle, along with their team, have been planning this since early March. The venue, Spanish Trail Park behind the Senior Center, was carefully selected for the reenactment.
In addition to the battles, visitors will have the chance to explore a temporary World War II museum at the Senior Center and enjoy a free USO-style dance featuring the 15-piece Hashtag Swing Orchestra on Saturday, September 2nd, at the park’s amphitheater.
The main focus of the event is education, as the organizers are committed to historical accuracy in uniforms, insignia, and equipment. Students and veterans will have a special day on Friday, September 1st, when they’ll be personally guided through the encampments and enjoy informative demonstrations.
Admission to all events, including the dance, is free, and food vendors will be on site. So, come rain or shine, join the action at Spanish Trail Park and experience history come alive from September 1-3.
- Friday: Student and veteran day – 9am-5pm
- Saturday: 9am-5pm, USO-style dance 7pm
- Sunday: 9am-3pm, church field service at 12:30pm