Richmond residents celebrate Rosie

Hundreds of people took a step back in time Friday night to celebrate Richmond’s role in World War II.

Organizers of the Rosie the Riveter 1940s USO Dance transformed Craneway Pavilion into an old-fashioned dance hall, featuring live music by Robin Gregory, the Singing Blue Stars, and the Junius Courtney Big Band.

Most of those who attended arrived in Big Band era attire, either in military uniforms or vintage dresses.

The annual dance honors the real-life “Rosie the Riveters,” American women who went to work in shipyards and factories at home while men went off to fight in World War II.

Betty Sutherland was only 15 when she started working in the Kaiser shipyards as a bookkeeper. She said she had to put on extra makeup to make herself look old enough to be hired.

“I never thought I was making a contribution,” Sutherland said. “Now people thank me, and it’s nice to be thanked.”

The event also paid tribute to Lena Horne, who died this spring. The actress, singer, and dancer visited the Richmond shipyards in 1943 to launch the SS George Washington Carver.

The USO dance was part of the Home Front Festival by the Bay, an annual weekend-long event that commemorates Richmond’s wartime efforts.

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