OCEAN CITY — The roar
that you hear above the Ocean City skyline means that the highly anticipated
Ocean City Air Show is underway.
Event organizer Brian
Lilley called this year’s lineup “the best ever” as the resort prepares for
what some say could be one of the biggest weekends of the summer, as three
major events will be entertaining hundreds of thousands of people.
Lilley briefed the Mayor
and City Council on Tuesday and ran through all the acts that will be featured
in the 3rd Annual Ocean City Air Show this weekend, including the
return US Air Force Thunderbirds, who will be headlining the event for the
second straight year, and who landed in the region yesterday at Wallops Island.
“Obviously this is our
third year and we’ve been building momentum to this event,” said Lilley. “This
show is looking like it will be our most significant turnout and it’s the best
lineup we’ve ever had.”
In addition, Lilley told
the council about a final addition to the lineup and it’s quite notable, not
only because the aircraft performs in only a handful of air shows each year,
but also because of the aircraft itself.
“We have four F-22
Raptors that will be flying this year and this is very significant because
there are only 187 that were made and we have four of them,” said Lilley. “[The
F-22] is the Air Force’s newest super fighter that can cruise at Mach 1.5 and
is a true stealth fighter jet.”
Mayor Rick Meehan gave
Lilley and his team a proverbial pat on the back in helping to grow the event
in just a few years.
“You’ve taken us to a
dramatic level in a very short period of time with this Air Show and I know
everyone up here is extremely excited for the weekend,” said Meehan.
The last two years of the
show has proven to be a huge success as far as spectators go and economic
impact to the resort and the business community, but from a purely financial
standpoint, the show is still operating at just above break-even.
Last year, the town of
Ocean City only recouped a little more than $14,000 of its $50,000 in “seed”
money that was contributed to putting on the Air Show, but City Council members
were quick to say that it was well worth taking a small loss when considering
the millions of dollars that were spent in local businesses throughout the
resort in what had been historically not a banner weekend.
Meehan believes that
this year will swing the financial numbers into the town and the event
“The money we’ve brought
in is building and it’s still a very young event, so now that people are
recognizing the event and they know that it is successful, they are more
willing to be involved with sponsorship,” said Meehan. “With that said, I think
that this will be our best year as far as sponsors and as far as attendance
goes, and most importantly, the economic value to Ocean City should increase
In the months leading up
to the event, town officials have been working diligently behind the scenes to
ensure that traffic and crowd control will be a non-issue despite the fact that
the Air Show is being held on the same weekend as the Ravens Roost Parade, the
OC Car and Truck Show and several youth sports tournaments.
“Obviously, traffic is
our main concern but we think that we will be able to manage the large crowds
very well,” said Meehan. “The Ravens Roost Parade is early in the morning and
they should be finished before the other events hit their stride. It’s also
notable that we just had graduation for our final class of seasonal police
officers, so we will have more hands on deck in that department.”
Ocean City Police Chief
Bernadette DiPino said that approximately 50 new officers will be on the
streets this weekend for added police presence and will be vital in handling
the expected huge crowds.
Meehan also pointed out
that crowd control isn’t really an issue, but he felt it was more like crowd
management that needed to be addressed.
“It’s an extremely
patriotic event, and we’ve never had any problems with people acting in an
inappropriate manner at the air show,” said Meehan. “We are more concerned with
keeping traffic and the crowds moving in the right direction.”