Gary Air Show organizers expect big crowd, smaller space
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent June 27, 2012 2:36PM
Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visotors Authority, and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson speak during a press conference at the Marquette Park Aquatorium about logistics for the upcoming South Shore Airshow Wednesday June 27, 2012 in Gary, Ind. The airshow takes place this year July 6-8 with the main activities located in the new parking lot west of the Aquatorium instead of the east lot due to park construction. At right is the new poster for the airshow featuring the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
If you go
The 13th Annual Gary South Shore Air Show kicks off at Marquette Park at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 6, and ends 4 p.m. Sunday, July 8.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will hold practice between 3 and 3:30 p.m. July 6, and a tribute to the region’s fallen Soldiers will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Parking in Marquette Park costs $20, but the city is offering $10 parking in two lots on Melton Road east of Lake Street and shuttle service to Marquette, while free parking and shuttle service will be available only from Majestic Star Casino.
Additionally, South Shore Trails will provide free-of-charge supervised bicycle parking during official Air Show times, from noon until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, log on to www.garyairshow.com.
Updated: July 29, 2012 5:06PM
GARY — The largest expected crowd for the Gary South Shore Air Show will be hosted in the smallest amount of space the event has ever faced, but South Shore Convention and Visitor Bureau CEO Speros Batistatos is confident the July 6-8 show will be the best one yet.
Batistatos and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, during a Wednesday morning news conference at the Marquette Park Aquatorium, provided the layout for the show. Due to ongoing construction in the park and around the Aquatorium, the show will operate on about two-thirds the normal amount of space. That space, which shifts everything toward the park’s west end, will be as functional as ever, with 18 local vendors to provide food and beverages for the more than 600,000 spectators expected to take advantage of the holiday weekend, Batistatos said.
Features added to the show this year include the U.S. Army Golden Knights paying tribute to Northwest Indiana’s fallen soldiers by presenting their family members flags flown over Fort Bragg, N.C., and a “Hometown Hero” flight with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds for Hobart Fire Chief Brian Taylor during the team’s Friday afternoon practice. Taylor was chosen as the show’s hero for rescuing Andrew Collins, 3, and Landon Teel, 1, from their burning Lake Station home in December.
“I’m humbled and feel very fortunate, but extremely nervous because I was told I could get sick or I could pass out, and I’m worried I’ll do both,” Taylor said. “This is an amazing thing (the SSCVA has) done for me, though.”
What won’t happen this year is tailgating on the park premises, and coolers remain not allowed. Also, parking on residential streets will be at attendees’ “own peril,” according to Batistatos.
“There will be vigorous enforcement for illegal parking,” he said. “In the past, we’ve had people, especially by houses that are for sale, take down the signs and park in driveways or sell parking at them. And last year, people thought this was U.S. Cellular Field and opened their trunks in the parking lot. There won’t be tailgating.”
And with zero arrests for three years’ running, the Gary Police Department will be in full force to continue making sure the Air Show remains safe and family friendly, said Cmdr. Pete Sormaz, who also reminded attendees to exercise patience with officers and staff.
Tickets remain for the Friday night Beach Bash charity event; cost is $75 per ticket and proceeds will go to Gary’s Webb House, the Indiana Parenting Institute and the Challenger Center at Purdue University Calumet, Batistatos said.