Council To Hear Air Show Date Recommendation

OCEAN CITY – The Tourism Advisory Board will come before the Mayor and City Council next month to recommend the OC Air Show be held the second weekend of June 2011.

A few weeks ago, OC Air Show Coordinator Bryan Lilley approached the Mayor and City Council to present the pros and cons on the potential dates for the OC Air Show. The two competing dates were the first weekend, June 4-5 or the second weekend, June 11-12, 2011.

Lilley also announced the disappointing news that the US Air Force Thunderbirds would not be returning next summer. Lilley advocated the second weekend, mainly for the reason that weekend holds the greatest possibility to host the US Marine Corp AV-8B Harrier and the US Air Force F-22 Raptors jet demo teams.

Lilley’s recommendation didn’t make it through the meeting because of Councilman Joe Hall’s concern over which weekend would gain a more beneficial impact on Ocean City’s tourism. Hall recommended Lilley meet with the Tourism Advisory Board to discuss the potential in each weekend and come back to the council with a recommendation.

Last Friday, the newly founded Tourism Advisory Board met with Lilley to discuss the events impending dates for the upcoming season. On Dec. 6, the board will present the council with the preferred second weekend of June option.

“I spoke with the Tourism Authority on Friday and they are also recommending June 11-12, 2011 to the Mayor and City Council,” Lilley responded in an email earlier this week. “I hope that the Mayor and City Council approve those dates since both the Tourism Authority and the OC Air Show agree that is the best weekend to hold the event.”

Although it seems the dates have already been finalized, nothing is official until the Mayor and City Council vote on the recommended date.

“The Tourism Advisory Board will make a recommendation to the Mayor and City Council, but they have the decision making authority,” Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) Executive Director Susan Jones said.

In discussing the potential in the two competing dates to hold the OC Air Show, the Tourism Advisory Board’s opinion focused on the objective of which weekend was most likely to fill hotel rooms.

“The room demand is much less on the first weekend, which means hotels can charge lower rates, which means you can have better packages that are more attractive to groups, and they [hotels] have a better opportunity to give complimentary rooms to performers,” she said.

Lilley had stated in the Mayor and City Council meeting that the chances of him obtaining the new jet teams were slim if the air show were to be held on the first weekend in June, which could be detrimental to the future of the show.

“We completely understood the whole jet team thing, and that he [Lilley] pretty much has no potential in getting demonstration teams on the first weekend,” Jones said. “So in this particular instance with all the factors we recommend the second weekend and in future years it needs to be on the first weekend.”

Lilley is pleased in the fact the Tourism Advisory Board shares the same view that the success of the air show is the number one priority.

“We will continue to work together on a year-by-year basis to insure that we have a healthy and successful event on a weekend that it can have the most impact and value to the community,” Lilley said. “I am also excited at our prospects for a fresh new line up for 2011 that will attract hundreds of thousands of people to Ocean City for the air show weekend.”

Unfortunately, if Lilley were to feel the air show would be more successful during the second week of June in 2012, the Tourism Advisory Board may have to disagree.

“Our recommendation will be for the second weekend for this year only, Jones said.