FLEMING ISLAND – World War II jeeps, American and Japanese uniforms and a Samurai sword are just a few of the items that will be part of a Veteran’s Day celebration Nov. 9 that will herald the movie “Midway,” which is set to show at the New Vision Theatres Fleming Island 12.
“We hope to enhance the movie-going experience,” said Leigh Ann Rassler, director of marketing for the Fleming Island theater, about the WWII display.
While the movie will begin showing Nov. 7, the WWII jeeps and other artifacts will be on display from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 9, the beginning of the Veteran’s Day weekend. The event is open to everyone – those who are going to see the movie and those who may just want to browse through the display, said Rassler.
The display will also serve another purpose, as it will act as a charitable fundraiser geared toward military groups, she said. The fundraising portion of the event will take place throughout the Veteran’s Day weekend.
“Midway,” which is a Lionsgate film, is being touted as a “spectacle” that portrays the important WWII battle that is seen as a turning point in the war. The movie includes an all-star cast, including Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mandy Moore and Woody Harrelson. It portrays huge battle scenes and lots of flying.
“The movie has a big cast. It’s big in scope and something that is best appreciated on a big screen. It’s not a movie to watch at home on your TV. It’s a spectacle,” Lionsgate’s Will Preuss told Rassler, she said.
The First Florida Chapter of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association and its members will be supplying the artifacts that will be on display Nov. 9. With the motto “History In Motion,” the chapter, which includes many members from
the North Florida area, dedicates itself to helping people understand WWII and how the vehicles as well as other items fit in, said David Thomas, president of the group.
People don’t understand how many men and women in service in WWII rode in the vehicles to carry on their missions overseas, while on the home front “a lot of women were building these vehicles,” he said.
“We like to educate people and say, ‘Hey, these are the vehicles they rode in to win the war,’”
“We want to enhance the experience for people by them seeing the uniforms, the jeeps and other things,” said Frank Cashman, regional coordinator for the group.
At the “Midway” event, people will be allowed to take pictures with the jeeps and even sit in them, he said.
The items on display at the “Midway” display will be authentic and original to WWII, said Joseph Lorentzson, staff photographer for the First Florida Chapter of the MVPA. Lorentzson has played a major role in providing many of the items that will be on display.
A collector of WWII memorabilia specializing in Japanese memorabilia, Lorentzson will be providing many of his personal items for display. In addition to American uniforms, including a Naval aviation uniform and flight helmet, there will be uniforms from the Japanese Imperial Navy and Army, Japanese rifles with bayonets and even a Samurai sword.
“The swords were government issued and factory made (as opposed to the historic swords crafted many years ago). They were issued to all commissioned and non-commissioned officers,” he said.
There will also be four jeeps owned by various members of the MVPA on display Nov. 9. Three will be outside and one inside the theater, and one will be “dressed” as a Navy jeep.
“These are very rare vehicles,” Lorentzson said.
The “Midway” event will also serve as a fundraiser for the Navy Wives Clubs of America, Rassler said. A basketful of blu ray DVDs, supplied by Lionsgate, will be the catalyst. Tickets will be available for purchase to win the basket, which is full of 34 Lionsgate films, running the gamut from family friendly and cartoons to horror shows. Among some of the names included are “Deepwater Horizon,” “La La Land” and “Now You See Me 2,” Rassler said.
Tickets will be available for purchase throughout the Veteran’s Day weekend and the winner, who will be chosen randomly, will be announced Nov. 12.
Funds raised will go to the NWCA, Daughters in Dixie #300 chapter. (The NWCA is now doing business as the Military Families Worldwide, which means membership is open to spouses of all service branches, not just the sea services.)
Orange Park resident Kathy Cayton, corresponding secretary for Daughters in Dixie #300 and past national president of the NWCA, said the funds will be welcome. “It will help us continue to support our charities,” she said.
St. Marys, Ga., resident Zachary Horning, president of the Daughters in Dixie #300 group, agreed, adding, “We are very honored and grateful Leigh Ann has given us the opportunity to do this, and we’re grateful for the community’s support.
For her part, Rassler said, “I’m hoping to raise as much money as possible to help our local military community.”
Those who view “Midway” at the Fleming Island theater will be able to enjoy it in a renovated space. The theater has been refurbished and includes luxury recliners in all 12 auditoriums, a new lobby, self-serve butter stations for popcorn and even wine and beer.
There is also reserved seating and on-line ticketing, which is available at www.newvisiontheatres.com.
“Veteran’s Day weekend is the perfect release date for Lionsgate Film’s ‘Midway,’” said Rassler. “New Vision Theatres is pleased to support the military community with this special promotion on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 12 to 5 p.m. We will have free mini-posters and door prizes for ‘Midway’ moviegoers,” she said.