TRAVERSE CITY — An estimated 400,000 people lined the beaches along West Grand Traverse Bay to experience the thrill of graceful, aerobatic maneuvers in the sky.
Viewers set out early in the morning to secure their prime beach real estate for the best views of the 88th National Cherry Festival Air Show. Festival-goers were treated to demonstrations by the U.S. Coast Guard, an ACC F-22 Demo, and stunts from Keven Copeland, Billy Werth, and the WWII display team, the Bremont Horsemen.
Of course, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were the most anticipated act.
Traverse City resident Paula Korndorfer was up early to find her spot at Bryant Park beach. She lives across the street from the park and needed viewing space for more than 30 guests who would be coming to her house to celebrate the festival.
“This is convenient,” she said as she laid out blankets and unfolded beach chairs before 8 a.m. “After the air show we traipse across the road and don’t have to fight traffic. Plus, we have a great view from here.You get to see more of when they are regrouping and coming back from this angle,” she said.
Air show enthusiast Nina Syme from Sterling Heights has seen nearly 40 air shows around the Midwest, including the Blue Angels every time they performed in the Cherry Festival over the last 24 years. She was also at Bryant Park early to find the perfect viewing spot.
“I’m a rubberneck,” she said. “The closer I am, the happier I am. I look at the view from here and it’s God’s country.” She liked seeing the Blue Angels perform in Traverse City more than any other area because it offers the best views with the open water.
Her husband, Todd Syme served as an avionics technician for the Air National Guard. He appreciated that Bryant Park offered easy access for parking, clean bathrooms, shade, and a view directly in the flight path.