PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Residents of the City of Pensacola and the surrounding areas will have a chance to meet the members of the Blue Angels this Friday at Gallery Night Pensacola.

The theme for GNP will be all things Blue Angels. GNP’s new executive director Jacquelin Tarver said the idea for the theme came about last year when the Blue Angels Foundation approached GNP.

“They reached out to us last year to celebrate the anniversary of the Blue Angels,” Tarver said. “GNP was excited about the collaboration as a way to honor the Blue Angels.”

Gallery Night Pensacola is a nonprofit organization with a dedicated goal of inspiring culture, engagement, and the practice of arts of all types in an entertaining event for all ages and walks of life. Its monthly events focus on specific themes, highlight featured artists, and recruit the best creators the area has to offer, its website says.

Founded in 1946, the Blue Angels is a U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron. They travel the country showing off the remarkable skill and teamwork of Navy and Marine pilots in dozens of air shows and demonstrations, reaching an estimated 11 million spectators each year, according to the Blue Angels website.

Tarver said the two coming together for one event makes it extra special for the fans of both GNP and the Blue Angels.

“This takes the fandom to a whole new level,” Tarver said. “Some attendees love art, and some love the Blue Angels. With this event, we are able to bring the two together.”

Attendees will be able to meet and greet several currently active Blue Angel members, as well as partake in the Blue Angels Experience.  

“We are expecting about a dozen or more Blue Angels,” Tarver said. “People will have a chance to get autographs and talk with the enlisted members of the Blue Angels, possibly get their picture taken. The Blue Angels Experience is provided by the Foundation themselves.”

Author Mat Garretson will also be in attendance and is giving away free copies of his book, Blue Angels Decades: Volume One (1946-1955) if people can answer the question to this trivia question: “In what magazine did the team get the inspiration for the name, The Blue Angels?”

The Blue Anchor Belles will be playing on the Garden Street stage. The Belles are a military spouse singing group bringing “Boogie Woogie” back to Pensacola.

Pensacola native Katie Bodden is the featured artist for Friday night. Bodden said she grew up as a Navy brat but has lived in Pensacola most of her life. She attended Auburn University, where she met her husband and began her family. Since moving back to Pensacola, Bodden said she has enjoyed being able to photograph the Blue Angels as the National Naval Aviation Museum Volunteer Flight Line Photographer and has recently had several of her photos published in the “National Naval Aviation Museum’s Blue Angels: A Pictorial History,” book.

“Growing up in a Naval family, I was surrounded by aviation,” Bodden said. “Thus, my respect and interest in this subject matter have increased over the years. My passion for photography is fueled by the discovery of the beauty held in this place, Pensacola, and I love being able to showcase it through my photos. I am incredibly excited and honored to be the featured artist of September’s Gallery Night.”

Tarver said a lot of communication goes into prepping for Friday night’s event.

“We try to find artists who incorporate aviation, as well as the Blue Angels into their work,” Tarver said. “We coordinate with local community members, our merchants, to make sure whoever wants to participate knows what is going on.”

For those who are on the fence about coming to the event, Tarver said you will have a great time.

“Everyone should come out and check out the artists, the merchants, the merchandise and the musicians,” Tarver said. “I think with all of the experiences that we have and the people that we are collaborating with this Friday is going to be very unique.”

With Tarver coming on as the new executive director, she said she will continue to support the mission and vision that the Board of Directors of GNP have.

“We will continue to bring art to the street in Pensacola,” Tarver said. “I want to continue to bolster the board’s wanting to make every Gallery Night family friendly. My background is in education and art, so I think I will lend well to building that atmosphere. So, I hope that the community will come out and experience that with us. I look forward to seeing what we do over the next year.”

The upcoming Gallery Nights for the rest of the year are Oct. 21, Fright Night; Nov. 18, Decades/Throwback; Dec. 16, Ugly Sweater Day. For more information on Gallery Night Pensacola, click here.

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