The dance floors and patios of Seville Quarter will be transformed into aircraft carrier decks and legendary military bars Friday in celebration of a century of Naval flight.
Organizers said the Wings of Gold Reunion aims to gather aviators past and present, along with ground crews and the general public for a night-long celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation.
“We were trying to come up with some way to bring the history of Naval aviation in Pensacola to life,” said Debi Panyko, armed services program director for the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event.
Visitors will have free rein of nine rooms at Seville Quarter, each of which will be decorated as a distinct era of Naval aviation.
Seville Quarter general manager Jack Williams said one room will house a 20-foot replica of the USS Lexington aircraft carrier, which formerly was stationed at Pensacola.
Another section of the nightclub will be modeled after Pensacola Beach — including an 8-foot replica of the “beach ball” water tower and truckloads of white sand on the floor.
“There’s going to be a lot of pictures and videos of old Naval aviation. It’s going to be really neat,” Williams said.
A Seville bartender will even impersonate the late, great Martin “Trader Jon” Weissman, the eccentric owner of Trader Jon’s bar, which was legendary among Naval aviators before Weissman’s death in 2000.
Panyko said organizers are preparing for up to 700 attendees.
More than 100 retired Naval aviators have purchased tickets, and many are traveling to Pensacola to attend the event, Panyko said.
“That’s kind of what we wanted, was having people hooking up with their old squadron mates and flight crew,” Paynko said.
Retired Navy Capt. Ed Turner is traveling from Jacksonville to attend. Turner began his Naval career in Pensacola in 1981, and he returned to Pensacola Naval Air Station for the final three years of his career.
Turner retired earlier this year and now works for a defense contractor in Jacksonville.
He said he’s excited about the opportunity to reunite with old friends in Pensacola.
“You kind of look for reasons to get together sometimes. To tell stories and relive the past,” Turner said. “Every Naval aviator has a special place in our heart for Pensacola. There’s just an air about that place.”