TRAVERSE CITY — Lauren Tkach was only four years old last time the Blue Angels danced across the skies of Traverse City.
More than three years later, every time the daughter of the National Cherry Festival executive director draws pictures of the festival, she includes the jets.
The U.S. Navy-trained Blue Angels once again will appear at the 88th National Cherry Festival after a four-year hiatus.
The U.S. Navy and Marine flight demonstration team performed at the festival every other year for the last 20 years. The exception was 2012, when they were booked for a War of 1812 commemoration.
The team will show off their flying precision on the festival’s kickoff weekend: July 5-6.
“When we see the jets in Traverse City, it’s an amazing spectacle to see that level of precision, especially among those protecting our country,” said Trevor Tkach, the festival’s executive director. “I think it’s a feeling on two levels: one is entertainment value and another is pride and respect for our military.”
Blue Angels performances typically boost festival attendance.
“We do know there’s certainly an increase in attendance on Blue Angels years to the degree that we see lots and lots of people on beaches and outside of festival grounds in addition to packed open space,” Susan Wilcox Olson, the Cherry Festival media and marketing manager, said.
The jet performance is a standout for festival goers.
“I remember the Blue Angels and the parade, and not much else,” said Suttons Bay resident Morgan Furore, who went to the festival as a child.
“It’s just exciting because most people have never seen a jet up close like that before,” said her mother, Christina Furore.
Other residents built their own traditions around the performance.
“We get on kayaks and float around and watch them practice by Power Island,” said Mary Manner, who lives on Old Mission Peninsula.
Tkach was relieved to hear that the team would be available to fly during the festival after federal budget cuts grounded them for a time this year.
The Blue Angels will perform at around 1 p.m. They will also fly in a practice show on July 4.