I heard about this this historical reenactment event a few years ago. I’ve always wanted to attend, but because February is such a busy month, I never had a chance to go. Around the same time last year, I found myself living vicariously through the #LAAirRaid tag on Instagram seeing photos of well dressed ladies and gents in 1940s high fashion and men and women in uniform of the time. The last time I did a 1940s themed event, it was an embarrassment to the time period and it catered to a much older crowd (with outdated values). I’m also nervous around reenactment buffs because they tend to be sticklers to details moreso than cosplayers. Thankfully, I mustered up the time and courage to make it out to this event. While I’m also nervous trying new events, I was very happy that I ended up attending The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942.
The Outfit: “Above All, I’m from Boston”
It was unusually cold in February…at least for people who have lived in Southern California all their lives. I had several dresses that I was considering, including my military secretary dress from Pinup Girl Clothing. However, that’s more of a stylized interpretation of a women’s uniform. I had a few Loco Lindo dresses in mind – they’re perfect for swing dancing, but not perfect for 50 degree coastal weather without a jacket. I was very happy that my Instagram followers and gal pals from Viva helped me narrowed down my choices, but my Fairy GodMajor ™ came through at the last minute to provide me with a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) uniform.
It’s usually frustrating being a size 8-10 and trying to find vintage women’s army uniforms. I’m glad I was able to represent the WASP at LA Air Raid.
The hair is a wig from Epic Cosplay Wigs. It’s the Diana in black. For those of you that don’t want to stress getting vintage hair, the Diana wig is my go-to. Amazing quality! The hat is a size larger than what I normally would wear so it can compliment the extra wig mass. It is bobby pinned to stay on.
Of course, I have my Besame Victory Red lipstick to top it all off!
“How are you staying warm?” I got this question asked a lot at the event. Living in Boston for several years will have you withstand the cold. It was like spring day in New England…
The event took place at Fort Macarthur in San Pedro, CA. The event started at 3PM; I arrived at 5PM just in time for sunset along the Pacific coast. While parking was free, the cost was an uphill hike and figuring out how far along we were going to park. Fort Macarthur by day is a museum, but for this event, it was decked out to be a USO party where there was a live brand performed by Dean Mora, fresh fish and chips being served, and various sites that had classic and fancy cars, and various vintage military vehicles. Reenactors were roaming the event, but there were plenty people in vintage World War II uniforms. I was even surprised to see a Captain America and an Indiana Jones cosplayer.
The bunker was re-purposed as a museum that documented photos and news clippings from the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as some artifacts from the second World War.
One of the reasons to attend LA Air Raid is the dancing. Music was provided by a live band – Dean Mora and the Fort Macarthur Orchestra. They were in full uniform too! They sang hit songs of the day – a lot of jazz standards that I was familiar with like “Sunny Side of the Street,” “It Had to Be You,” among others. What really made me happy was when they did a cover of “When I See an Elephant Fly” from Dumbo. I mean, Dumbo was actually used in war propaganda, so it fits! The dance floor was pretty huge and there was plenty of room to dance. I wish I had time to dance, it’s been a while since I’ve actually been on the dance floor.
The gift shop was open too!
At about 7PM-ish, the music stopped and the lights went down. The sirens went off. Thus, the air raid began. The Sherman tank and two anti-aircraft guns were firing away. Fireworks made up for explosives. While it does get pretty noisy, it’s no more noisier than special occasion fireworks. For a good 20 minutes or so, we saw the fort being lit up and firing away.
Hey look! Photos!
A few photos from my new Canon point and click. I’m still getting used to shooting with this camera in the evening. Thank goodness for very well lit areas; we made it barely in time for magic hour!
The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942 was a really fun event. I really enjoyed how the atmosphere was recreated to look like the 1940s. Seeing people in both fancy civilian and military attire really added to the period; it was almost like stepping back in time. Even the occasional cosplayer or two didn’t make the experience jarring (Captain America was being asked by the kids attending if they could join his team!). Everyone I met was very friendly and I appreciated the compliments I received for my WASP captain’s uniform. After doing this event, I do want to check out more 1940s style reenactments that handle the era with as much love and care as this one. While I still get apprehensive about 110% accuracy, I didn’t run into any trouble here. It was nice seeing friends from Dapper Day / Vintage Visitors and making new friends from the event. I really enjoyed talking to everyone I’ve met!
Special thanks to Retro Dolls for providing additional photos and coverage for us! If you enjoy the 1940s as much as I do and if you’re local to Los Angeles, you should totally book a pinup photoshoot with them!
Many thanks to Fort Macarthur for making the event happen! I hope to see you again next year! (And I hope to be on the dance floor..eventually!)
Captain Vicky Angel…has a nice to ring to…someone fund this potential for an adventure serial!
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