Gary`s South Shore Air Show canceled due to budget cuts - KMSP-TV

Gary`s South Shore Air Show canceled due to budget cuts

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GARY, Ind. (FOX 32 News) -

Gary's South Shore Air Show has become the latest casualty of the government sequestration. Organizers said Tuesday that they just could not afford to put on the show this year because of the federal cutbacks.

The air show is a huge boost to tourism in Gary and particularly in the community of Miller, where people pack the beach each July for the three-day, eye-popping aeronautics showcase.

Now, business owners and residents are wringing their hands after learning the show won't go on.

"It's a sad situation, because I love taking my grand kids up there and I love going myself," says Gary resident James Gardner.

The grounding of the Gary air show is causing a lot of rumbling and grumbling in a community that counts on the aerial extravaganza for a big economic boost each year.

Fagen's Pharmacy has a mural promoting the show on the outside of the building and counts on a lot of visitors stopping in on the way to the beach to purchase snacks and beverages.

"I would say 50 to 75% more those three days, because they come from everywhere and places they didn't know we were here, they learn about us, and they come back," says Fagen's Pharmacy manager Sally Rempis.

Organizers estimate the show brings in at least $8 million in tourism business, drawing half a million visitors from 23 states and six countries each year.

But the government sequester has forced the military to cancel participation by such big name draws as the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Army's Golden Knights parachute team.

"It's impossible to put on a meaningful air show without the big loud noisy crowd-pleasing jets," says Spero Batistatos with the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. "That's what people come to see."

Carmello Saraceno just opened her Miller Beach Market Place in February. She figures she'll make about $1,500 a day during the peak summer season, but the three-day air show had her dreaming for a really big weekend.

"What I had really hoped to do was to secure a spot at the air show, with a tent, and I think that's a $30,000 it's $30,000 really," Saraceno says.

"I think it's a sad sad situation because it means money into the city, plus it gives people something to do on the weekend, you know it's just a good place to be," Gardner says. "I have been going every year since they've been having it."

Another casualty of the cancellation hits closer to home for the military, which uses these shows as a major recruiting tool.

The Gary show is the 38th air show to be cancelled. At this point, the Chicago Air and Water Show is still on.

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