HAMMOND | The 2013 South Shore Air Show has been canceled because of the impact of federal budget sequestration.
The decision was announced at a Tuesday morning news conference at the Indiana Welcome Center.
With no Thunderbirds of F-22s available to wow the crowds at Miller Beach as they have in the past, sponsors have decided to cancel the air show, said Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority.
"In response to the government’s sequestration measures, which have resulted in the intentionally painful cuts of the federal budget and the cancellation of aerial demonstration teams, including flyovers, jump team demonstrations and aerial demonstrations, it is nearly impossible for our show to take place this year and meet the high standards as it has set the past 13 years," Batistatos said.
“We have spent countless hours considering the effect of sequestration on our air show sponsorship opportunities, programming, attendance, and the overall financial viability of producing an all civilian aircraft event. It is with a heavy heart, that we have decided that despite our best efforts, we must cancel this year’s show,” Batistatos said.
He described the military aircraft as "the sizzle in the steak" when it comes to the 13-year-old air show. Civilian aircraft cannot duplicate what they do, and because the money would not be available to hire them anyway, it was decided that canceling the show was the best option, he said.
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Board of Directors has made the "very tough decision," Batistatos added, "but when options were weighed, this was viewed to be in the best interest of all participating parties of the air show, from spectators to sponsors.”
The show was sponsored by the city of Gary in its early years. Admission to the show always has been free and, since 2007 has been financed by a group of supporters, including the SSCBA.
The show has been a break-even proposition for its sponsors, but that was never the point, Batistatos said. (Gary) was always the best place for an air show. No pesky steel and glass (structures) to get in the way.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she was sorry the show had to be canceled.
"We will see more casualties that are a direct result of parties' failure to work together. In the end, this has an adverse effect on communities that are least able to withstand the impact — cities like Gary," she said.