Local dignitaries take the stage Friday evening, between the picnic celebrating the 100th birthday of American Legion Post 45 and the 338th Army Band concert. Presenting and accepting documents and words of congratulations are (from left) state Rep. Julie Calley, Post 45 Commander Steve Carr, Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava and Department of Michigan Commander Barry Wood. A Hastings resident, Wood also has served as Post 45 and district commander.
Two days of celebrating is probably too much for most centenarians, but Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 in Hastings welcomed well-wishers with food, tours and more Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16 and 17, for its 100-year bash.
The celebrating began Friday evening with free hot-dogs, chips and lemonade for visitors to Thornapple Plaza in downtown Hastings, provided by the Legion. Some dignitaries and members of the 338th Army Band gathered with Legion representatives at Hastings Public Library for dinner and mingling.
Those same dignitaries – including State Rep. Julie Calley, Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava and Department of Michigan American Legion Commander Barry Wood – then reconvened on stage at the plaza to present proclamations to current Post 45 Commander Steve Carr.
“I am really proud to help the American Legion Post 45 celebrate 100 years,” Tossava said as he gave Carr a city proclamation declaring Aug. 16 and 17 American Legion Centennial Weekend.
Calley presented Carr with a signed proclamation and a framed U.S. flag that had flown over the state Capitol. The proclamation was signed by the governor, lieutenant governor and State Sen. Dr. John Bizon. She referred to veterans as quiet heroes and commended the American Legion.
Carr, thankful on behalf of the local Post, took the microphone briefly: “I just want to say, God bless our military. God bless our veterans, and God bless the United States of America.”
The concert by the 338th Army Band, based in Michigan and Ohio, was the final Friday Night Feature of the Hastings Live summer concert series.
All of the Army band members who performed Friday are from Michigan, but it was the first time to Hastings for most of them. They packed up in Livonia that morning, traveled to Hastings, unpacked, set up, and did a sound check before heading to the library for a complimentary dinner.
Band members were impressed with Thornapple Plaza.
“Honestly, this is one of the best venues we’ve been to,” Spc. Kim Williams said. “On behalf of the band, I want to say, ‘We love Hastings.’ ”
The nine-piece band delivered a mix of tunes, getting the biggest response from Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
After an encore, the crowd dispersed, darkness fell and Legion members went home to rest before the second day of celebrating 100 years.
Saturday’s party at the Lawrence J. Bauer Post on M-37 south of Hastings included more proclamations, bingo, tours of the renovated post and its archives room, military vehicle display, a cruise show by the Legion Riders and more. (See more photos in this issue.)