News release from Arma V-J Homecoming Association
They waited – with beer on ice – for the official word of Japan’s surrender to end World War II. Finally, around 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, 1945, President Truman made the declaration.
Pittsburg “broke loose,” according to accounts in the Pittsburg Headlight and Pittsburg Sun. Thousands of revelers converged on Broadway for a long-anticipated victory celebration, lasting into the wee hours.
The exuberance carried on for the next two days, proclaimed as a legal holiday.
However, it would take months for the millions of veterans to return from overseas. When Arma veterans came home, they created their own V-J Homecoming in 1947 – and have kept the celebration going for 75 years. Uniquely, Arma commemorates a V-J weekend each August as a tribute to those who served and joy of coming home.
75 YEARS LATER
Arma’s 75th V-J Homecoming celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 13, with a traditional horse pull contest on grounds near the Arma swimming pool.
On Saturday, Aug. 14, Fort Riley’s 1st Infantry Division Army marching band will perform in the 10 a.m. parade in downtown Arma. Two days of games and contests will merge into one big day on Saturday at Arma City Park.
A 5K run at 7:30 a.m. kicks off festivities on Saturday. After the parade, children can bring a box turtle to enter the turtle race, or participate in tricycle and foot races. Kids can also enjoy bounce houses and carnival games in City Park. Teams can test their skill in multiple contests – from cornhole to bocce to horseshoes – Saturday afternoon. Additionally, fans of the TV show Amazing Race can bring a team of four to compete in the “Arma”zing Race. Contests since the festival’s inception are the women’s rolling pin throwing and nailing driving competition at 2 p.m., as well as the junior bathing beauty contest at 3 p.m. For chili lovers, a chili cook-off will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. The homecoming’s hamburger and beer stand, staples of the festival, will be open throughout the day.
Rollin’ Nostaglia Car Club hosts a car show from noon to 6 p.m. Individuals can buy tickets for the 7:30 p.m. drawing of 75 prizes to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Arma V-J Homecoming. Among those prizes is more than $4,000 in cash. A street dance featuring DJ Jimmy Willard caps off festivities from 8 to 11 p.m.
Returning World War II veterans, along with World War I veterans, formally organized the Lon H. Helm Jr. Post 182 American Legion in Arma in January 1946. The post is named after Army Air Corp Staff Sgt. Helm Jr., of Arma, who was declared lost at sea in October 1943. Post 182 conducted its first V-J Homecoming on Aug. 14, 1947. Three Arma families – the Kovacics, Kmetzs and Varsolonas – had the distinction of each sending five sons to serve in World War II with all 15 sons returning home. Those service members were: Frank, John, August, Henry and Bill Kovacic; Andrew, Victor, Frank, Paul and John Kmetz; and Sam, Paul, John, Charles and Frank Varsolona. Former Sun writer Nikki Patrick wrote on two of the 15 men in her column.
2021 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
FRIDAY, AUG. 13
- 6 to 8 p.m. – Kids’ Fishing Derby at Hookie Park. All entrants, ages 6-14, receive a prize.
- 7:25 p.m. – Lon M. Helm Jr. Post 182 American Legion flag-raising ceremony and singing of the National Anthem by Janelle Bunney, behind Arma City Pool
- 7:30 p.m. – Horse pull Contest, behind Arma City Pool. $4 for adults, children under 12 free. Paid admission gets ticket for Saturday evening’s prize drawing. Concessions.
SATURDAY, AUG. 14
- 7 a.m. – Registration for 5K Run, Arma City Park. Free T-shirt for first 50 runners, registration $25
- 7:30 a.m. – 5K run begins. Awards to overall male and female, plus to first and second-place winners in each gender and age division
- 400 Meter Fun Run follows 5K. Ribbons awarded to top 4 boys and girls.
- 7:30 a.m. – Biscuit and Gravy Breakfast, City Park
- 8 a.m. to ? – Vendors open
- 8:30 to 9 a.m. – Parade participants meet at Northeast Elementary School
- 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. – American Legion beer stand, City Park
- 10 a.m. – Parade, downtown Arma, featuring the Fort Riley 1st Infantry Division Army band. Grand Marshal John “Red” Cummings, Post 182 American Legion Commander. Cash prizes for winners in float division, novelties, antique and classic cars, tractors and motorcycles.
- 11 a.m. to noon – Registration for Cornhole Tournament, American Legion parking lot. $20 per person, $40 per team. Payout to winners based on number of teams.
- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Carryout Homecoming Dinner, Arma United Methodist Church, $10 for adults, $5 for kids
- 11 a.m. – Children’s Games for ages 3 to 15, near grandstand. Turtle Race (box turtles, no snappers), Tricycle Race for ages 3-4 (bring your own bike), Foot Races, Activity Race and Throwing Contest. Cash prizes for top 3 winners in four age divisions.
- 11:30 a.m. – Registration for Bocce Tournament, shelter house in City Park
- Noon – Cornhole Tournament begins, American Legion parking lot.
- Noon – Bocce Tournament begins. Prizes awarded.
- Noon to 6 p.m. – Rollin’ Nostaglia Car Show, downtown Arma
- Noon to 8 p.m. – Bounce houses, inflatables and carnival-like games by Northeast PTO, City Park. Armbands $20
- 1 p.m. – Horseshoe Pitching Contest, City Park. Trophies and prizes awarded to first, second and third place in each division, $5 entry fee.
- 1:30 p.m. – Registration for the “Arma”zing Race. Fans of the TV show Amazing Race can take part in their own adventure. Using clues, teams of 4 people will compete on foot to try to best their rivals in a scavenger-style contest. (No motorized vehicles allowed). Cash prize for first-place team. $20 per team. Go to Arma V-J Homecoming’s Facebook page for more details.
- 2 p.m. – “Arma”zing Race begins, near Roll of Honor plaque near City Park.
- 2 p.m. – Rolling pin throwing and nail driving contests for women age 16 and older, City Park
- 3 p.m. – Registration for Junior Bathing Beauty Contest, northwest corner of City Park. No cost to enter.
- 3:30 p.m. – Junior Bathing Beauty Contest begins. Age groups: 1 year, 2 years, 3 years. Contestants must wear swimwear.
- 6 to 8 p.m. – Chili Cook-off, medical clinic parking lot in downtown Arma. No cost to enter. Public can sample all contestants’ chili for $5 and vote for People’s Choice.
- 6 p.m. – Cakewalk, near grandstand.
- 7:30 p.m. – Drawing begins for 75 prizes in the 75th annual V-J Homecoming, downtown Arma. Over $4,000 in cash to be given away! Bring lawnchairs. Purchase tickets in front of the Roll of Honor plaque near City Park.
- 8 to 11 p.m. – Street dance featuring DJ Jimmy Willard follows drawing.