Tops In Blue
Published April 24, 2003
Tops In Blue is the Air Force's premier entertainment showcase for the entire family. It brings the best in music, dance and comedy -- all performed by men and women in blue who perform 90 minutes of non-stop live entertainment.
The unit's goal is to enhance mission productivity for Air Force members and their families, especially those in remote and isolated locations. During each annual tour, Tops In Blue entertains more than 250,000 military personnel and their families, presenting an average of 120 performances at 100 locations worldwide. The showcase is presented throughout the continental United States, Canada, Europe, Central America, Alaska and the Pacific.
Each year, active-duty men and women with military duties as diverse as aircraft mechanics, electronic technicians, security specialists and other functional areas begin at base level by competing in talent shows. The most talented are then selected to compete at the Air Force Worldwide Talent Contest. From these contestants, a 30-member group is chosen to represent the best of the best.
Although contestants strive to be selected for Tops In Blue during the competition, they also compete in one of five individual categories to be the best in the Air Force. These include male and female vocalist, instrumentalist, and musical and non-musical variety categories. A contestant's age or rank is not a limiting factor. Talent category winners have ranged from lieutenant colonels and senior master sergeants with more than 20 years of service to second lieutenants and airmen basic with fewer than six months of service. Most contestants, however, are junior officers and staff sergeants and below.
All contestants must have their commanders' approval to allow them to travel with Tops In Blue.
Tops In Blue is produced by the Entertainment Branch of the Programs Directorate, Headquarters Air Force Services Agency, San Antonio. These programs are funded in part by appropriated funds and supplemented with nonappropriated funds that are generated by Air Force people.
Tops In Blue began in 1953 as a vision created by Col. Alvin E. Reilly to recognize the high caliber of entertainment available in the Air Force community. Over the span of 40 years, Tops In Blue has performed in films, produced albums and has been featured on national television with such legends as Ed Sullivan, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Barbara Mandrell and Alabama. In 1981, the cast performed the half-time show for the Garden State Bowl in New Jersey. With an estimated 110 million people watching worldwide, the cast presented the half-time entertainment show "The World of Children's Dreams" for Super Bowl XIX, Jan. 20, 1985.
Tops In Blue has contributed immeasurably to the ideals of America by representing the United States as both military and American ambassadors. In 1993, the unit traveled for the first time to Central and Eastern Europe bringing the music of America to 10 countries in the heart of the previous Soviet Bloc. Tops In Blue continues to bring a touch of home, a touch of America and above all, the pride of the Air Force to all their audiences.