ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Air Force Band of Midamerica and the St. Louis Children’s choir retold the story of the “Candy Bomber,” an air force pilot who dropped candy to children from his cargo plane in 1948.
The holiday performance, “Christmas from heaven: The Candy Bomber Story,” filled the Touhill Performing Arts Center with music, song, and narration Thursday night.
It’s one of nine performances by the United States Air Force Band of Midamerica, this year marking their 75th anniversary.
“This year we’re highlighting the Berlin airlift, which happened all the way back in 1948,” said Captain Justin W. Lewis, the commander and conductor of the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America. “And Colonel Gail Halvorsen, who was called the candy bomber, he’s turning 101 this year, and he did a lot of things to bring Germany and the United States together after the second world war.”
The celebrated Air Force pilot was stationed at Scott Air Force base while serving overseas. Halvorsen helped children in war-torn Germany after WWII by air-dropping candy.
He became so popular that eventually, U.S. candy manufacturers dropped candy from U.S. cargo planes.
“Having America and Great Britain take care of these children in a very special way so that they would actually have a Christmas in a time of great deprivation is a wonderful story that resonates with children who’ve been through a hard two years now,” said Barbara Berner, the artistic director for the St. Louis Children’s Choir.
Back in 2015, Halvorsen dropped candy again for kids in Salt Lake City.
Looking back on the candy drops, Halvorsen knows the treats held more weight than just chocolate.
“I was at the end of the runway of Templehoffen American Airbase in West Berlin suddenly outside the barbed wire right next to me were thirty kids and kids would see you in uniform would chase you and shake you down for chocolate,” said Halvorsen. “Kids, 9 to 15, had been under Hitler. They knew that freedom was what they wanted.”
The band and choir recreated the historic and sweet event with tiny parachutes of candy of their own.
“It’s really nice to see what can happen when one person does one kind act and that can sort of takeoff and change the world for the better,” said Lewis.
The performance, “Christmas from heaven: The Candy Bomber Story” will be playing again at the Touhill Performing Arts Center Friday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.
Tickets are free but organizers encourage folks to reserve seats in advance: https://slccsing.org/events