The North Platte Canteen Festival is set Dec. 18, marking the 80th anniversary of the renowned World War II Canteen.

On Dec. 17, 1941, North Platte residents gathered at the Union Pacific Depot because they heard that a troop train carrying their own boys would be coming through. When the train stopped, none of their boys were to be found. Instead it carried soldiers from Kansas.

After a moment of disbelief, one person stepped forward and gave presents to the troops and everyone else soon followed.

The happiness of the soldiers sparked an desire to continue the practice, so residents of North Platte and the surrounding communities followed the lead of their predecessors in World War I by opening a Canteen at the train depot.

The endeavor lasted for 54 months, involved 12,000 volunteers, and served more than 6 million service men and women. It was one of the largest volunteer efforts of World War II.

When an impact like that has been made, it is important to keep that story and heritage alive, so the North Platte Visitors Bureau, Downtown Association, Lincoln Country Historical Museum, and North Platte Community Playhouse will be pleased to present the Christmas Canteen Festival on Dec. 18.

This is why we would like to invite the community to join us for the First Annual North Platte Canteen Festival this December. Honoring the selflessness that started so many Decembers ago by joining our neighbors in events highlighting the patriotism, volunteerism, and discovery of the World War II Canteen seems like the perfect way to not only spread holiday joy, but to keep this amazing chapter of North Platte history alive!

The celebration will kick off with A Sentimental Musical Journey beginning at 2 p.m., which will take audiences through the music of the World War II era, celebrating one of history’s largest wartime volunteer efforts.

Residents are encouraged to get “In the Mood” with North Platte’s own Glenn Miller-style big band and the vocalists who will “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

In the evening, Whistle Stop Stories will begin at 7:30 p.m. Stories of the generosity, hardship, and kindness that the North Platte Canteen experienced are showcased in this moving production that will transport the audience back in time.

Both events will be held at the North Platte Community Playhouse.

Proceeds will be donated to the Lincoln County Historical Museum to further their World War II Canteen exhibit, which will continue to spread this story of volunteerism and patriotism for generations to come.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 1. Advance tickets will be $18 for adults and $10 for students, and tickets purchased the day of will be $20 for adults and $12 for students.

The ticket link and updated information will be available at VisitNorthPlatte.com/North-Platte-Canteen-Festival/.

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