Toledo attorney John Thebes was working in his 10th floor office in the PNC Bank Building Wednesday when the sounds of a live band lured him outside to Levis Square.
Belting out songs by Adele, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, and Toto, the band, he said, sounded good, but he took a double-take when he saw the musicians were all in sailor whites.
"When you go into clubs and a band's playing, they're not dressed like U.S. military," said Mr. Thebes, whose late father was a Navy veteran. "If you close your eyes and just listen, you'd have no idea."
Horizon — a unit of the Chicago-based Navy Band Great Lakes — performed a lively set of Top 40, rock, Motown, and country songs downtown over the lunch hour as part of Navy Week.
Several of those enjoying the music said they came downtown for the concert after reading about it in the newspaper.
Toledoan Richard Wahl said his brother had seen the same band perform in Norfolk and recommended he go see them. He said he is "retired Air Force" but appreciated the Navy sound.
"It's great," he said, looking over the crowd. "People have been coming and going."
Musician 3rd Class Michelle Werner, who did most of the singing for the otherwise all-male band, said the group plays at free community events, military appreciation days, sporting events, fairs, festivals, and recruiting drives at high schools, not to mention official Navy events.
Band members play music full-time for the Navy.
"It's why I joined," Ms. Werner, a Norfolk native, said. "I don't think I would've joined for any other reason."
Bonnie Smith of Perrysburg was enjoying the free entertainment with three co-workers from the Robinson, Curphey & Connell law firm.
"I think they're great," she said of the Navy band. "It's a nice treat for the lunch hour."
As part of Navy Week, five vessels — U.S. and Canadian frigates, a Navy patrol boat, a Coast Guard ice-breaking tug, and the rebuilt War of 1812 brig Niagara — are to sail into Toledo this afternoon to kick off a long weekend of tours and activities. It is part of a six-city U.S. tour, plus several stops in Canada, timed to commemorate the War of 1812's bicentennial as well as to promote the modern Navy.
At the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, local veterans from all branches and eras of the Armed Forces are invited to share their stories in audiotaped conversations as part of the library's ongoing oral history project.
Veterans either may drop into the Main Library, 325 Michigan St., between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday or reserve a time slot by calling 419-259-5233.
The library also is hosting a display of ship models from the Western Lake Erie Historical Society beginning Friday and running through Sept. 8. A traveling exhibit called "1812," which was produced by the Canadian War Museum, also is on view through Saturday at the Main Library.
A family day is planned for 1:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the library with a War of 1812 equipment demonstration, an 1812 style show at 1:30 p.m., and activities and crafts for children.