Jacksonville, FL - A Jacksonville tradition won’t fly this year.
Naval Air Station Jacksonville has cancelled the 2013 Air Show, which was set to be held in late October. Just a few days ago we learned the Blue Angels wouldn’t be performing in the show, citing budget concerns at the federal level. Thursday’s notice that the Air Show would be called off entirely cited the same reason.
“It’s sad to see where this country is going… it’s real sad,” says Arlington resident Bobby Costello.
He thinks it’s inexcusable for problems at the federal level to trickle down and have such a big effect on things like entertainment.
“Seeing the planes and everybody’s having a good time- it’s good stuff for Jacksonville,” he says.
He watched the show for many years, as did Beaches resident Susie McQuiston, who tells me she had family who would come in from out of town every year to see the show.
“Something that was unique to Jacksonville, and it was exciting, it was a family thing to do,” she says.
Many people who I’ve spoken with are concerned not just that they’re missing a fun event, but an important one for showing off Jacksonville’s military and bringing the community together. The show is hosted by the city and NAS Jax on alternating years, so while it’s not Jacksonville’s year I still went to your city leaders to see if they would be willing to step up to keep the tradition alive.
“It would boil down to whether we could afford to put something like that on,” says Council Finance Chair John Crescimbeni.
He says it’s a fun event that he enjoys going to, but also a costly one to put on. And Council President Bill Bishop tells me he won’t be able to tell if it’s something the city can do until those numbers are more clear.
“I’m sure that’s something we’ll look at to see,” he says.
The Mayor’s Office tells me they are willing to look in to all the options and talk with event organizers, but, in a statement, says “it would be difficult for the City to assume the budgetary and logistical responsibility for an event of such a large scale at this late of date.” The office further says they look forward to hosting the show, tentatively, in 2014.
NAS Jacksonville’s Commanding Officer Captain Bob Sanders issued a statement as well, saying the decision was tough because of the amount of support the Navy received from Jacksonville, but “our decision came down to priorities which are operational readiness and supporting the warfighter.”