Air and Water Show wows on first day

August 17, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The conditions were perfect, but government budget cuts are definitely being felt.

Many people may say that there is certainly a lot different about this year's show, but organizers said there is still plenty of thrills.

All eyes were to the skies as the Chicago Air and Water Show took flight.

Saturday's show is a first for north Chicagoan Jermaine Freeman.

"I've been trying to come for the last three or four years and finally had the opportunity to," he said.

The skies over North Avenue Beach were stage to fewer big name acts this year.

"Some disappointment but hey, this is something that you can come out and enjoy with your family," said spectator Mimi Tirado.

Because of Federal government cutbacks military performers like the Thunderbirds, the Blue Angels and the Golden Knights parachuters aren't here.

"We're still able to get our message across, despite some of the cut backs and some of the constraints that we currently operate under," said U.S. Army Brigadier General Gracus Dunn

To fill the void, organizers added several new acts to the lineup.

The All-Veteran Parachute Team accompanied Blackhawks' National Anthem singer Jim Cornelison on his jump before he officially opened the show.

A British Sea Harrier Jet made an appearance. Plus Geico Skytypers who "sky-typed" messages that appear like text messages in the sky.

"We put out a whole message out about every six or seven minutes, where it would take a minute and a half just to do one letter with sky writing," said Jim Record, Geico skytper.

Returning headliner Malibu chuck Aaron Red Bull Helicopter and others also performed.

But even with the additions, crowds appeared smaller.

Last year, an estimated two million people attended the show.

"We may have a little bit of a drop off, but we really highly doubt it, given the beautiful weather both days, folks are coming to the beach both days regardless of what's up in the sky," said David Kennedy, Chicago Office of Cultural Affairs.

The Chicago Air and Water Show, which began in 1959, the largest free show of its kind held in the United States.

Despite looking and sounding different it is still one of the city's most popular annual events.

"Just came from Indianapolis this morning. I drove three hours to here," said spectator Yu Lu.

If you missed the excitement on Saturday, you have another chance on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.

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