OC Air Show Plans Tweaked For Next Year

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Air Show will return to the skies over the resort next summer with a few changes including being moved to a weekend instead of mid-week as it was last year and a starting date about a week later than last year.

Event organizer Brian Lilley and Ocean City Recreation and Parks Director John Sullivan outlined the plans for the 2009 Air Show for the Mayor and Council on Tuesday. The working dates for the event this year are June 13-14, which is about a week later than last year’s event. In addition, the show has been moved to a weekend instead of the mid-week days utilized during last year’s event.

While last year’s air show, the first ever held in the resort, was considered a success for the town, the bottom line wasn’t as rosy for Lilley and his event production company. He explained last year’s air show took in over $60,000 in direct revenue compared to a little over $82,000 in expenses, resulting in a net loss of about $22,000 for the show’s producer. The town invested $50,000 in seed money for the event, which was paid back.

Despite taking a loss in the first year, Lilley is enthusiastic about bringing the air show back this year. The event will be held on the beach between 14th and 17th streets again this year with most of the officially sanctioned events as well as the paid admission areas and extra events such as exhibitors, vendors and hospitality events held there.

New this year will be a take-off party on the beach on the Friday night before the air show actually begins. Lilley told the council plans for the party includes a night parachute jump and some selected flyovers. Lilley asked the town for permission to serve beer, wine and food at the take-off party on the beach. The town agreed.

After hearing the details for the 2009 air show, the council voted to approve the dates and the events associated with it, calling the 2008 version a real success for the town.

“The thing to keep in mind is it is very difficult to equate what the town gains from this,” said Councilwoman Mary Knight. “It’s a revenue generating event for us.”

Councilwoman Nancy Howard agreed, praising Lilley and Sullivan for pulling it together last year.

“It was an unqualified success last year,” she said. “For one week, it brought the entire town together and there is no reason to believe this year will be any different.”

While he also praised the event, Mayor Rick Meehan warned a private sector commitment was needed.

“I think the business community really needs to step up here,” he said. “It was a great event but it won’t keep happening if people stay on the sidelines and don’t step up.”