Though the Cherry Point Air Show may be back on again, the late start has apparently cost the show its usual marquee performers — The Blue Angels.
“The Blue Angels will definitely not be here,” said Beth McKenzie, marketing director for Marine Corps Community Services, which organizes the show. “We are currently trying to get another jet team.”
McKenzie said that the Navy jet demonstration team was originally scheduled to perform at the Marine Corps air station for the May 16 to 18 show until the base announced the event’s cancellation in early December, citing budget concerns. When the base announced three weeks later that the show was back on, it was too late to get the Blue Angels back.
“We had them originally booked, but when we decided to cancel the show and we told them we were cancelling it and we let them go, and we looked into getting them back when we decided to put the show back on and they were already booked,” McKenzie said.
According to the Blue Angels website, the team is instead scheduled to at the Rhode Island Air Show in North Kingstown, R.I., for May 17 and 18.
McKenzie said MCCS has just a few short months to prepare for the air show.
“We’re getting a real late start, so it’s slow going right now, but we’re trying to jump on things,” McKenzie said. “Normally it takes us a year in the planning and we’re down to a much shorter time frame this time.”
Other civilian and military performers are currently being sought for the show, but McKenzie would not comment on specific acts.
“We are still working on those. There are some that I have heard we are working on, but nobody is official yet,” McKenzie said.
Putting on the show is a mammoth undertaking. McKenzie estimates that between 800 and 1,000 civilian and military personnel, plus volunteers, work on the event.
“A lot of the Marine units here at Cherry Point volunteer to work the air show and they get funds put into their birthday ball funds that they earn over the weekend,” McKenzie said.
MCCS handles the civilian side of the show.
“We do all of the commercial sponsorships, the tarmac exhibitors, the commercials on the radio and the television, the ads in the newspaper,” McKenzie said. “We do the preferred seating. We do the all of the vendors. We do the corporate chalets and the command and MCCS hospitality chalets.
Then our contracting side of the house does the contracts for the civilian performers. The military side of house is dealing with the military acts. They are the ones that are the air show boss, the pit boss and the air show director. We have the DoD folks that are communications folks, the maintenance folks that make sure that we have lights and we have equipment and that things are working properly.”
The last air show at the base in 2012, which included the Blue Angels, drew about 165,000 people for the three-day event.