Crowds hit beaches for Air & Water Show

August 14, 2010 9:16:15 PM PDT
All eyes on the lakefront were to the skies Saturday for aerial acrobatics, with more than a million people hitting beaches to see the action.

The weather was warm and sticky but the skies were clear, which is what the pilots needed to put on the best show they could, with some of the planes flying at speeds greater than 120 miles per hour.

Every year the Air and Water Show attracts about 2 million people to the lakefront for the weekend. It is the largest free show of its kind in the country.

People also battled the heat at the show on Saturday, but the cool tricks from above made it all worth it, especially one from a celebrity in the sky.

Chicago's Vince Vaughn took the plunge from 12,000 feet above the city's skyline Saturday morning for the city's 52nd annual Air and Water Show.

He was not nervous, and he kicked back and enjoyed the view.

"It's pretty incredible getting a chance to do it here at home," said Vaughn. "Seeing all the buildings up close when you're coming down... it's pretty great."

The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team orchestrated the jump. Vaughn's mother Shea jumped with him.

"I don't think either one of us was really scared," said Shea, to which Vince said, "we were more excited than scared."

"We were more excited, and honored, actually, to have the opportunity to do it," said Shea Vaughn.

"Vince did very well - he was really excited," said Sgm. Stephen Young of the Golden Knights. "In free fall, he said it was just too short... it was over before he knew it."

Young said he appreciates the performances for their role as a connection between the military and the public, as well.

"It's always a pleasure to watch these guys; they are such ambassadors for the army, they do a great job representing the army," said Young. "I know the American public loves them, and you can see the crowd just goes crazy when they come in and jump."

In a change from previous years, there will not be jet skis and water skiers in the water - only U.S. Coast Guard and Chicago Fire Department search and rescue.

The crowds lined the length of the lakefront, but were concentrated between Fullerton and Oak. Fans kept their eyes wide open as they battled the crowds in the heat

"This is my third; I have been living in Chicago for three-and-a-half years," said Tiffany Miley. "So I've gone every year except last year... for me, it's becoming an annual thing.

April Sutton and her family were in attendance and were dazzled by the performances.

"They are amazing, they're jaw dropping, especially with all the stunts that they have, and the close contact of almost hitting each other," said April Sutton.

"Just seeing them do acrobatic things and just coming down, and then we saw Vince Vaughn and his mom - that was the highlight of the moment - it was great," said Chicago resident Eleanor Hampton.

The zoom and boom continued later in the day when the show ended with a dizzying performance from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Cooling centers were set up and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications opened a special operations center to keep an eye on the festivities. There were no problems reported.

Cooling buses were also stationed at underpasses, and OEMC monitored the situation from its command center with cameras.

The roars in the sky will start again Sunday at 11:00 A.M.


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