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They’re setting the stage for the nationally known West Point Band at AA5

Army-AA5

This summer’s first Alive After Five kicks off Thursday at 5 p.m. in Patchogue Village — and the entire event is being run with the sacrifices our nation’s military members in mind.

A Salute to our Armed Forces is the theme for Thursday’s party.

Taking center stage — or, at least, the stage near Fulton’s Gate on East Main Street — will be the West Point Band, fresh off a recent appearing on Fox & Friends in NYC.

The soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Recruiting Office in Patchogue have also called in for some military vehicles for people to check out — and maybe take a selfie or two.

We caught up with Staff Sgt. Christopher Harper, Paratrooper, and Staff Sgt. Kevin Lovelace, Air Defense Soldier, last week behind BrickHouse Brewery where they were helping get the stage equipment in order before Thursday.

“Once we realized we would definitely be participating and have a large presence at the festival, that was when we reached out to the West Point Band, and they were available,” Staff Sgt. Harper said.

The band plays cover music, anything from patriotic songs from the 1920s to the 1940s, to contemporary pop, rock, hip hop and R&B.

“They are talented, professional musicians, and this is their job in the Army to perform,” Staff Sgt. Harper explained. “They play all over the country as ambassadors of the U.S. Army, just like we are here as recruiters.

“Their job is to show people some of the capabilities the Army has outside of just combat and warfare, but rather cultural and the arts as well.

“They’re excited to do it, and they’re excited to perform for the people of Patchogue.”

For the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce’s Alive After Five committee chairman, James Skidmore, he said he was honored to have the U.S. Army on board.

He was also happy to get some extra manpower last week for the volunteer work.

But that’s nothing new, he said.

“Whenever we need these guys, they’re always there to help,” he said.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Christopher Harpe helps prep last week for Alive After Five in Patchogue.

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com