A reunion of former internees of Santa Anita Assembly Center during World War II will be held at the Santa Anita Racetrack on Saturday, March 29, sponsored by the newly-formed Santa Anita Assembly Center Committee.

The May 1, 1942 issue of The Santa Anita Pacemaker.
The May 1, 1942 issue of The Santa Anita Pacemaker. (Occidental College)

The committee is asking all persons who were detained at the camp during the spring and summer of 1942, their descendants, other persons from different camps and their descendants, and anybody/everybody who is interested to attend this get-together. The committee is hoping to reunite long-lost friends of 72 years ago to reminisce some of the good times they had together under bleak conditions.

In the morning, special continuous tram tours of the horse stables, where almost half of the residents were housed, are being negotiated, along with tours of the large shower room still in existence. Participants will then walk to the Santa Anita Assembly Center monument and the Seabiscuit statue, ending up at the grandstand, where a large area has been reserved. A barbecue luncheon will be held prior to the start of racing. A race to be named in honor of the gathering will be determined by the reunion date.

An added feature is the all-day Tokyo City Cup and Japan Family Day Festival to be held on the same day, including Japanese cultural exhibits and performances. The Tokyo City Cup is the $100,000 stake race for the day.

Santa Anita Assembly Center was a hastily built temporary camp that housed 19,000 persons of Japanese ancestry at the start of World War II. It was in existence from March through October of 1942.

The Santa Anita Assembly Center Committee is composed of former internees of Santa Anita and other camps and their descendants, with great help from the Japanese American Korean War Veterans, who held four previous events.

George “Horse” Yoshinaga started the reunions many years ago, and was instrumental in getting the monument erected to describe the camp during the war years. This reunion is being held in his honor for all of his work for the previous reunions and the monument.

The cost is $35 per person, which includes admission, valet parking, race program and buffet luncheon, with reserved space at the east end of the grandstand.

An original camp map and the last issue of the camp newsletter, Pacemaker, have been found and are now being worked on for distribution. Those born at the camp and Santa Anita internees ages 90 and older will be admitted free, but must write in for free tickets to be admitted.

Make checks out to Heart Mountain Committee and mail to: Santa Anita Reunion, 210 N. Shadydale Ave., West Covina, CA 91790-2245. Indicate if you are a former Santa Anita internee for name tag identification, and women who have since married are asked to include their maiden names. Deadline for registration is March 15. For more information, call (626) 338-8310 or email BaconSakat@aol.com.

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