And the show did go on … thanks to Cannon’s hard-working volunteers

Senior Airman Shawnta Butler, 27th Operation Support Squadron, helps Staff Sgt. Amanda Young, Lackland Air Force Base, build the railing for the upper stage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Janet Taylor-Birkey)

Senior Airman Shawnta Butler, 27th Operation Support Squadron, helps Staff Sgt. Amanda Young, Lackland Air Force Base, build the railing for the upper stage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Janet Taylor-Birkey)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Airman Wardell Wheeler Jr., 27th Services Squadron, pulls down light panels after the Top In Blue show Feb. 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Janet Taylor-Birkey)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Airman Wardell Wheeler Jr., 27th Services Squadron, pulls down light panels after the Top In Blue show Feb. 16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Janet Taylor-Birkey)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- As she eyed more than 52,000 pounds of equipment waiting to be unloaded and assembled, Senior Airman Shawnta Butler, 27th Operation Support Squadron said, “no way.”

Although not realizing all the work that goes into preparing for the Tops In Blue Show, Airman Butler later said it was a good opportunity for her to see what the tour group is all about.

Forty-six Cannon Airmen volunteered to build sets complete with an upstairs dance and lounge area Feb. 16 at the Marshal Junior High School Auditorium. The stage featured special effects lighting, including 556 lights and more than two miles of cable, according to the Tops in Blue Web site.

Other Airmen served outside in 28-degree temperatures to direct audience members to parking areas.

Putting a humorous spin on his reason for volunteering to help with Tops In Blue, Staff Sgt. Marvin Morrow, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron said, “I can’t sing so I figured I would do this.”

Turning the humor to admiration for the Tops In Blue team, he went on to say, “It takes a lot of work. I had no idea how much work it was. It takes a lot of manual labor and then they have to perform and tear down. I give them a lot of credit for doing what they do.”

Some might question if volunteers are needed since the performers are so adept at putting everything together and tearing down again, but the team appreciates those laboring alongside of them.

“When we have people out here to volunteer, it really expedites the process and means a lot to us to have anybody,” said Senior Airman Daniel Rankin, a Tops In Blue performer from Fort Gordon, Ga. “We can take down the whole set by ourselves, and we have many times, but one or two volunteers makes a difference, let alone having a group like this.”

Taking down the stage involves loading all 52,000 pounds of equipment back on the truck, like it came off hours earlier. This year’s tear down team set a record in having everything taken down by 11:15 p.m., the quickest Tops In Blue has packed up this year, said Ms. Lisa Russ, 27th Services Squadron.

She added it was after 2 a.m. last year before everything was packed up again.
Tops In Blue consists of more than 30 Air Force performers plus technicians, and has performed more than 7,000 shows since the program began in 1953. Tops In Blue have 106 performances scheduled for the 2005-2006 tour schedule.

For more information about performances or auditioning, visit http://www.topsinblue.com.