History of Clearwater
Part Eleven
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Local Citizens Welcomed Troops Bound for Combat

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Though the war cast a dark pall over the world, the citizens of Clearwater were bound and determined that the nation’s fighting men would enjoy their stay in the Springtime City.
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The Fort Harrison Hotel had a prominent role in contributing to the ambiance.

The luxury hotel was already renowned by its winter guests for its graciousness. From its grand opening in 1927 and continuing into the 1930s and early ’40s, the Fort Harrison was used for fashion shows, wedding receptions, card parties, bridge teas, tea dances, birthday parties, Kiwanis and Rotary meetings. The hotel had its own orchestra, who performed in the ballroom, and guests could also find “The Dancing Dolls” in their “Spectacular Review” performing with Mademoiselle Euphemia Kavass and Eddie Dean’s Fort Harrison Orchestra.

In the early 1940s, the big hotels in the area, including the Fort Harrison, contracted with Uncle Sam to house the platoons of young men who were pouring into the region to receive military training. The Fort Harrison, Grey Moss Inn and Belleview Biltmore were stripped of their luxurious furniture, rugs and bric-a-brac. In their place came army cots and olive drab. Even in these scaled down surroundings, the soldiers wrote letters home bragging about their luxurious accommodations. The Fort Harrison and the Grey Moss Inn housed the 588th Army Airborne Squadron and the local Military Police.

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