More than 24 million passengers passed through Broward County’s airport last year. But the airport began as single airstrip on a former municipal golf course in 1929. A few years later the airfield was transformed into the Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station to train pilots during World War II.
After the war, Broward County took control and later ownership of the facility. In 1959 Broward County Airport was renamed Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
“One of the most iconic evolutions in Broward [County] and Fort Lauderdale was the airport,” said Neil Goldberg, director-producer of the Broadway-style show WE at the Fort Lauderdale Theatre for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m., Sat., Oct. 3. The production will celebrate Broward County’s 100th anniversary.
That evening it will be 1959 at the airport again as a dozen Irish dancers, ages 9 to 22 and dressed as airline stewardesses, will fill the stage.
“It’s going to be amazing. A different way to present Irish dance,” Caitlin Kelly, owner-director of the Kelly Academy of Irish Dance in Fort Lauderdale said during a rehearsal.
For several girls, it will be a sentimental performance. Their former dance teacher, Maureen Harling-Welty, a one-time stewardess, died of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). “We’ll be dancing for her as well as showcasing the talents she taught us,” dancer Daphne Cottle, 16, of Lighthouse Point said.