Category Archives: Heroes Hall

  • Thursday, November 3, 2022 (11:45 am)

    Serenity Walk coming to Heroes Hall at OC Fair & Event Center

    A Serenity Walk will be the latest addition to Heroes Hall at OC Fair & Event Center. Groundbreaking for the project will take place at the venue’s Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 12.

    Designed to both honor veterans and to provide a place of rest and contemplation for the community, the Serenity Walk will feature a winding pathway, benches and lighting. New landscaping will be featured, including special plantings honoring Purple Heart recipients.

    The OC Fair Board of Directors approved the project in May and it is also being supported by the Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation through a donation of $100,000 to help fund the estimated $500,000 cost.

    In addition to being a place of respite, the Serenity Walk will help alleviate some ongoing drainage issues, provide the opportunity to repair and replace fencing and will spruce up a formerly unused area, creating an inviting space for all. Additional Walk of Honor monuments and new pillars are also included in the project designed to complement Heroes Hall.

  • Thursday, April 7, 2022 (3:05 pm)

    Imaginology is this weekend!

    Imaginology returns in person this Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10! We’ve got a packed schedule of take-home crafts, science experiments, live performances by local entertainers, youth competitions and more.

    The free two-day event gives students the chance to explore careers in the S.T.E.A.M. fields –that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math – as well as agriculture education.

    After being canceled in 2020 and going virtual in 2021, this year the family fest returns IN PERSON with activities and entertainment for kids of all ages.

    Programming includes:

    Science exploration

    Local exhibitors like Compass Charter Schools, YMCA of Orange County and Gemology will provide hands-on experimenting. Plus, try a little physical science with activities like hula hoops, Recess Revolution’s free-play area, or Heroes Hall Museum’s Fort Blisters Boot Camp.

    Tech lessons

    The Coder School and National College Resources Foundation will be on hand to talk about the future and the history of computers. Plus, OC Fair has a fun augmented reality activity in which kids can make their own coloring page come alive!

    Engineering playtime

    From woodcarving and scroll saws to Rigamajigs and module trains, there will be plenty to put together at Imaginology. Harbor Soaring Society will host aerospace adventures, Brain Builders will show off robots and LEGOs and Imaginology’s cardboard engineering competition will be on display.

    Arts in crafts, displays and more

    Local entertainers such as dance groups, DJs and music groups will provide live entertainment at the Main Stage. There is also a plethora of hands-on crafting – many of which come with a take-home project! Plus, Imaginology’s mural competition will be on display.

    Math by way of strategy

    We can find math in just about everything (like having students count out the cash for a burger and brat!). But logic and mathematical reasoning is the way to win at chess, and the local Academic Chess chapter will host their annual Tournament of Champions on Saturday from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Registration is $30 at

    Agricultural education

    Livestock competitions and exhibits will be on display throughout Imaginology. Plus, OC Fair & Event Center’s year-round Centennial Farm will feature activities such as radish seed planting, a terrarium makeshop, oxen demos and more – and don’t miss a peek at the piglets born March 16. There will also be blacksmithing demonstrations at the Farm.

    When: Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
    How much: Admission is free and most activities are included. Parking is $10. Food will be available for purchase.

    For more information including a full list of exhibitors and food that will be available, visit

  • Friday, March 18, 2022 (4:12 pm)

    Heroes Hall Supervisor presented with Woman of Distinction award

    Please join us in congratulating Heroes Hall Supervisor Carol Singleton, who was named one of the 2022 Women of Distinction, presented by Rep. Michelle Steel.

    Rep. Steel presented the 2022 Women of Distinction awards to 18 of Orange County’s best and brightest female leaders in the categories of Education, Health & Wellness, Compassionate Community, Public Service, Veterans’ Services, Public Safety, Community Partnership, Financial Service, and Youth Champions.

    Throughout the rest of #WomensHistoryMonth, Rep. Steel will be sharing profiles of each of these exceptional women on her Facebook page: Be sure to follow along to learn about their remarkable contributions to our area.

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022 (12:05 pm)

    Heroes Hall Museum celebrates Orange County’s military history with two important milestones

    Today Heroes Hall Museum & Education Center celebrates its 5th birthday as well as the 80th anniversary of the Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB), which operated in Costa Mesa during World War II.

    Since opening its doors on Feb. 15, 2017, Heroes Hall Museum has been committed to honoring our nation’s military veterans and giving voice to their remarkable stories. Through thought-provoking exhibits such as Bravemind – about the impacts of post-traumatic stress on service members – to Voices: Veterans Storytelling Project and our Veterans Day celebrations, Heroes Hall has educated and inspired thousands of visitors.

    Heroes Hall is also home to the permanent exhibit The SAAAB Story, which depicts the history of the Santa Ana Army Air Base through artifacts, stories, and photographs. SAAAB was a preflight training center for pilots, navigators and bombardiers during the World War II. Many of the artifacts on display were donated by local families whose relatives served at the base.

    “In our exhibit we strive to keep the stories of the SAAAB airmen alive, many of whom went on to fight with honor in the European, Pacific, and China-Burma-India theaters of operation,” said Carol Singleton, Supervisor of Heroes Hall Museum. “Tragically, many of them died or became prisoners of war. Others returned home injured both physically and psychologically.”

    The base, which opened on Feb. 15, 1942, stretched over 1,300 acres and contained more than 800 buildings. The creation of the base forever changed the character of the region from a quiet agricultural community to a busting urban center. The aerospace industry also flourished in the area during World War II.

    After the war, the land that occupied the base was sold off to various entities including Orange Coast College, the city of Costa Mesa, and the Orange County Fairgrounds. Many of the barracks buildings were sold to service members returning from the war. The structures were dismantled and rebuilt as homes for veterans.

    The building that houses Heroes Hall Museum is one of the last remaining barracks from SAAAB. It was rescued from demolition by the Fair Board of Directors and local veterans organizations who recognized the value in creating a museum dedicated to the stories of our military heroes. After being moved from one area of the fairgrounds to its current location between Centennial Farm and the Pacific Amphitheater, it underwent a complete renovation prior to opening its doors in 2017.

    In 2019, Heroes Hall was the recipient of an A-4M Skyhawk, a Vietnam-era attack aircraft that was previously on display in downtown Santa Ana. The city was expanding its Civic Center and needed to find a new home for the jet, and Heroes Hall was happy to comply. Today the aircraft, which is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, sits on a large pedestal near Heroes Hall Medal of Honor Courtyard and Walk of Honor. The courtyard and walking path include plaques that pay tribute to dozens of Orange County military heroes, some who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    “Heroes Hall Museum receives financial support from Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation and AMVETS, to whom we are very grateful. They provide funding for everything from bus scholarships for school groups to artifacts for our permanent collection,” said Singleton.

    To learn more about Heroes Hall Museum, upcoming exhibits and educational resources, visit

  • Monday, February 7, 2022 (3:14 pm)

    Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II opens Feb. 16 at Heroes Hall Museum

    On Feb. 16, 2022, Heroes Hall Museum at the OC Fairgrounds will open a new exhibit called Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II. Produced by The National WWII Museum, the exhibit features artifacts, photographs and oral histories to highlight some of the extraordinary achievements and challenges of African Americans during World War II, both overseas and on the Home Front.

    A national advisory committee, including the late Dr. Clement Alexander Price of Rutgers University, was commissioned to help frame the exhibition. The committee, led by co-chairs Dr. John Morrow of the University of Georgia and Claudine Brown of the Smithsonian Institution, helped advise on the exhibition’s narrative arc and content.

    “The importance of this exhibit at this time in our country’s history can’t be understated,” said Carol Singleton, Heroes Hall Supervisor. “Over the past two years, we have been reminded of the devastating consequences of implicit bias as well as outright racism that still plagues our communities. This exhibit is a tribute to those who stood up to the injustices of segregation and discrimination while also putting their lives on the line for their country.”


    In the years before World War II, African Americans in many parts of the country were treated as second-class citizens. Discriminatory practices were condoned by the government, and African Americans were systematically denied many rights and liberties by laws that kept them in positions of inferiority. Due to the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision in 1896, the United States was a nation where “separate but equal” was law in many states. In addition, many military leaders declared African Americans unfit to serve in combat. However, once the war began, thousands rushed to enlist, determined to fight for freedom, while still being denied equality at home.

    On display at Heroes Hall Museum through Sept. 18, 2022, Fighting for the Right to Fight illustrates how hopes for securing equality inspired many to enlist, the discouraging reality of the segregated non-combat roles given to black recruits, and the continuing fight for “Double Victory” that laid the groundwork for the modern Civil Rights Movement.

    Through interactive experiences, visitors will discover the wartime stories of individual servicemembers who took part in this journey of extraordinary challenge, from unheralded heroes to famous names, including Alex Haley (US Coast Guard); Sammy Davis Jr. (US Army); Benjamin Davis, Jr. (US Army Air Forces); Medgar Evers (US Army) and more.


    The centerpiece of the exhibit is an original eight-minute video about the famed 332nd Fighter Group (better known as the Tuskegee Airmen), who in many ways became the public focus of African American participation during the war. The piece is narrated by television personality Robin Roberts, whose own father flew with the Tuskegee Airmen during the war.

    Including personal accounts from members of the 332nd Fighter Group, the video provides an overview of how their success in battle became a great symbol of bravery, helping refute notions that African Americans were inferior performers in the military, especially in roles requiring advanced training. Lieutenant Colonel William Holloman III recalls his leader Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.’s encouragement: “He said, ‘America’s watching you.’ He instilled in us a pride that I don’t think was there before we went in the service.”

    Additionally, Fighting for the Right to Fight will feature two medals representing the seven African Americans who were awarded the Medal of Honor in 1997, the bittersweet result of a long investigation by the US military on discriminatory policies in the awarding of combat medals. The exhibit will also provide in-depth coverage of lesser-known events and service, such as that of the USS Mason, the first American ship to have a predominately African American crew.


    In conjunction with the Fighting for the Right to Fight exhibit, Heroes Hall will be offering a speakers series on a variety of topics related to Black history as well as the struggle of other groups such as women, Latinos, and Japanese Americans.

    See artifacts and images from the exhibit and learn more at


    Join us for the grand opening of Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II. The event will feature speakers, performances and kids activities.

    This event is free and open to the public.

    When: Saturday, Feb. 19, 11 a.m.
    Where: Heroes Hall Museum at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa

    The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that future generations will know the price of freedom, and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or visit

    Heroes Hall Museum is a permanent, year-round museum and education center with exhibitions, performances and educational programs that celebrate the legacy of Orange County veterans and others who have served our nation. The two-story exhibition space will rotate themes semi-annually with each focusing on an aspect of the personal stories and experiences of veterans. Heroes Hall is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit

  • Thursday, November 11, 2021 (3:13 pm)

    Santa Ana Army Air Base exhibit reopening

    Heroes Hall Museum has reopened its permanent exhibit, The SAAAB Story, which chronicles the history of the Santa Ana Army Air Base. The air base’s location once included the land on which the OC Fairgrounds now sits, and Heroes Hall’s building is a renovated barracks from the base.

    The exhibit first debuted when Heroes Hall opened in 2017 but has been updated with several new artifacts and memorabilia.

    The SAAAB Story is much more immersive now,” said Carol Singleton, Heroes Hall Supervisor. “It will help people better understand what the cadets went through while they were training here. Everything about the exhibit is connected to the Santa Ana Army Air Base.”

    The Costa Mesa Historical Society provided a lot of the artifacts, including original posters, uniforms, cadet personal items, trophies and telegrams. Previously the exhibit featured photo reproductions but now includes original photos on display.

    Other new sections include information about:

    • Women, Latinos and LGBTQ service members in the military during World War II
    • Letters from 8th graders who were sent to internment camps to their white classmates in Westminster
    • German POWs who worked on the base picking oranges
    • Tuskegee Army Air Field, which is where the Black airmen who would have trained at SAAAB were placed were it not for segregation
    • Victory gardens, rationing and other campaigns led on the home front

    “My favorite part is the personal stories of the cadets that graduated here,” Singleton said. “There are eight different cadet stories, each one extraordinary, and all eight went on to the war in either the South Pacific or the European theatre.”

    The SAAAB Story is a permanent exhibit at Heroes Hall. Heroes Hall is open year-round, Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The first-floor exhibit, Through Their Eyes: Artwork by Active Military and Veterans, will be on display until Jan. 20, 2022.

  • Wednesday, October 13, 2021 (10:30 am)

    Heroes Hall exhibit Through Their Eyes features opens Oct. 13 with work by local military artists

    A new exhibit at Heroes Hall opens today, Oct. 13, showcasing the artwork of 24 local veterans and active U.S. service members.

    Through Their Eyes: Artwork by Active Military and Veterans will be the featured exhibit at the museum now through January 20, 2022.

    New museum hours: Heroes Hall is now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

    Heroes Hall Museum is dedicated to honoring Orange County’s service members and providing a place where they can tell their stories. For this new exhibit, military service members have expressed their individual experiences through a variety of mediums including sculpture, photography, painting, carving and woodworking.

    “It has been such a pleasure meeting the artists and hearing the stories behind their artwork,” said Carol Singleton, Heroes Hall Museum Supervisor. “Several of the veterans in this show turned to art as a means to heal both emotional and physical wounds. We are privileged and honored to bring this extraordinary exhibit to the community.”

    Through Their Eyes was underwritten by the Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation. The judges were Dave Barton, Fatemeh Burnes and Denton Knapp.


    Winning pieces are pictured below, and details about each of the artists are available on the Heroes Hall section of

    First Place: David Vargo for “Unlikely Path” (pictured above)

    Vargo is an art professor at Laguna College of Art and Design, and has painted illustrations for companies like Blizzard Entertainment, Arch Enemy Comics, Lucasfilm and Wizards of the Coast.

    “My love of the mysterious combined with my passion for the figure has led to a long-term art affair with imaginative realism,” Vargo said.

    Second Place: Giovanni Berdejo for “Hope”

    Berdejo is a photographer and author, and has taught photography workshops for student veterans at Chapman University.

    Third Place: Ed Bowen for “Entrenchment”

    Bowen is a Vietnam War veteran whose art is part of the Army’s war art collection and is displayed in various government facilities including the Pentagon and the Smithsonian.

    Artists in juried show:

    Kurt Bayless, U.S. Navy, Huntington Beach
    Giovanni Berdejo, U.S. Army, Fountain Valley
    Ed Bowen, U.S. Army, Corona Del Mar
    George Davis, U.S. Marine Corps, Rancho Santa Margarita
    Hanh Dinh, U.S. Marine Corps, Garden Grove
    Reginald Green, U.S. Navy, San Diego
    Linda Hicks, U.S. Air Force, Westminster
    Charlie Hunt, U.S. Army, Huntington Beach
    Sean Lenahan, U.S. Navy, Costa Mesa
    Phyllis Miller, U.S. Navy, Santa Monica
    Kimberly Millett, U.S. Army, Newport Beach
    Darrow Minor, U.S. Navy, Long Beach
    Cody Reed, U.S. Navy, Long Beach
    Arthur Rivera, U.S. Navy, Anaheim
    Abraham Romero, U.S. Army, San Diego
    Casey Rydjeski, U.S. Army, Fountain Valley
    Sandra Scott, U.S. Air Force, Yucaipa
    Mario Solorzano, U.S. Army, Pomona
    Bill Stewart, U.S. Air Force, Newport Beach
    Gary Tegel, U.S. Navy, Costa Mesa
    Paul Todd, U.S. Army, Orange
    David Vargo, U.S. Marine Corps, Anaheim
    George Wallims, U.S. Marine Corps, Huntington Beach

    Special guest artist
    Joe Pisano, U.S. Navy, San Diego

    Read more about each artist at

  • Thursday, September 30, 2021 (10:09 am)

    Heroes Hall to close Oct. 1-12 in preparation for new exhibit

    Heroes Hall will be closed from Oct. 1 through 12 as the team installs a new exhibit. 

    Through Their Eyes: Artwork by Active Military and Veterans is a juried show featuring artwork from 23 U.S. military veterans from the Southern California region. The artists have expressed themselves through a variety of mediums including sculpture, photography, painting, carving and woodworking. Their subject matter is as unique as they are and ranges from combat scenes to flowers and surreal portraits. But there is one thing they all have in common: they have all served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

    The exhibit will run from Oct. 13, 2021, through Jan. 20, 2022.

    View a list of artists and get more info about the exhibit

    Heroes Hall at the OC Fairgrounds
    Open Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5  p.m.

  • Thursday, March 25, 2021 (11:08 am)

    Dates announced for 2021 OC Fair!

    Today the OC Fair announced dates for the much-anticipated annual event – July 16- Aug. 15. The theme is “Time for Fun,” celebrating the joy of the return of Southern California’s favorite summer festival.

    “We are grateful to plan for an exciting, and safe, OC Fair this year,” said OC Fair Board Chair Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia. “This milestone will allow the community to come together to celebrate the future and generate much-needed opportunities for economic development and growth in Orange County. The Board and staff have done a fantastic job of responsibly managing our finances and preparing to meet safe reopening guidelines to not just make it through the pandemic, but to emerge resilient and ready for 2021 and beyond.”

    OC Fair officials have been working closely with public health agencies to develop protocols to keep fairgoers safe while bringing back carnival rides, fair food, entertainment, competitions, animals and more to fair fans. The plans for the 2021 OC Fair are based on health agency projections for the summer, but could change if warranted by public health conditions.

    Advance ticket sales will be required and limited capacity will give fairgoers more elbow room. The number of concessions, rides and shopping vendors will be reduced and spaced out to provide more distance between each. Admission tickets will go on sale May 1 on

    “We have worked through many different scenarios for the 2021 OC Fair and we are so excited to move forward with this plan because it means that we really can bring back the fun, and that’s why I love this year’s theme,” said Michele Richards, OC Fair & Event Center CEO. “We want everyone to continue to follow health guidelines and get vaccinated so we can finally celebrate summer together again.”

    The Fair Board voted to keep ticket prices at the 2019 OC Fair rates, $12 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekdays (Wednesday, Thursday), and $14 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The current plan is for the fair to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, as it traditionally has been. There is a change to move Friday into weekend pricing and OC Fair will absorb the online ticket sale fees.

    Announcements regarding concerts in Pacific Amphitheatre and The Hangar will be coming soon.


  • Monday, November 16, 2020 (3:33 pm)

    Heroes Hall interior temporarily closes to comply with county’s COVID-19 response

    Heroes Hall veterans museum at OC Fair & Event Center will be temporarily closed starting Nov. 17 to comply with Orange County’s COVID-19 response.
    Outdoors, Heroes Hall’s Medal of Honor Courtyard and Orange County Walk of Honor remain open so visitors can learn about local veterans who served their country and see the Skyhawk aircraft what was installed outside the museum last year.
    The Heroes Hall Virtual Museum is also available for visitors to read the stories and see photos and memorabilia of Southern California veterans anytime online.
    Nearby Centennial Farm, the fairgrounds’ year-round working farm, is open by reservation for self-guided tours. Centennial Farm hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free admission and parking (donations welcome); masks and reservations are required and COVID-19 safety protocols are in place. To reserve a time to visit, go to
    The new Heroes Hall exhibit, Private Charles J. Miller: WWII Paintings from the South Pacific, will reopen when the Orange County Health Care Agency deems it is safe for Heroes Hall to welcome back indoor guests.
    Featured is the visual diary of Miller, who chronicled his military service in the South Pacific theater during WWII. He was a self-taught artist who had been drawing throughout his lifetime, teaching himself perspective, anatomy and drawing and painting techniques.
    For more information, visit