Peabody preparing for fourth ?Operation Celebration?

Now in their fourth year, organizers are looking for another year of increasing participation at this year?s ?Operation Celebration? Memorial Weekend in Peabody.

The festival markets itself as ?the state?s largest World War II festival.?

?It seems to be catching on,? said Shane Marler, executive director of the Peabody Main Street Association. ?Our numbers have been on a consistent rise from year to year, and we hope that continues.?

The festival was begun primarily as a way for people to say thank-you to veterans.

?That?s why we have Memorial Day off, and I think sometimes people forget that,? Marler said. ?They get caught up in boating and camping at the lake and things like that.?

Most of the events are planned for Saturday. One recent addition to the festival is a World War II reenactment in downtown Peabody, which will occur at 3 p.m.

?Last year we had about 30 reenactors that used blanks, of course, but it?s really loud and gives you a feel for what it would have been like to be there?without the carnage.

?As far as the volume and the feel of it, it certainly is quite realistic. It has quickly become on of the most popular aspects of the festival. People like it.?

Another highlight for organizers is the ?State?s Largest Victory Parade? at 5 p.m.

?We have a big parade where we put the veterans on trams and give them a little American flag,? Marler said. ?The people stand along the parade route and wave and say thank-you.

?The coolest part of that is when we?re doing the parade lineup, the veterans get together and talk to each other and swap war stories,? he added.

?Even though they didn?t necessarily serve together, they have similar life experiences. They sort of have a natural connection with one another.?

Saturday climaxes with a ?Puttin? on the Ritz? dinner and concert beginning at 6 p.m. The featured performers this year will be Pop & the Boys, which Marler characterizes as ?an old-time, bluegrassy type band.?

In the middle of the event is a ?to die for? dessert auction. Proceeds from the auction will go toward building a public restroom in the city?s downtown park.

Marler said in part because of high school class reunions, the festival has drawn visitors from across the country?with good reviews.

?I have yet to have any complaints,? he said. ?I?ve had lots and lots of people say they really enjoyed it. I think it?s way cooler than camping at the lake, but that?s just me.?

For a complete listing of events, visit peabodyks.com/opc.

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