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No Blue Angels or Thunderbirds? ‘Still a great show, but ... ’

The All Veteran Parachute Team skydives over Chicago August 17 2013 during Shell Air Water Show. | JessicKoscielniak/Chicago Sun-Times

The All Veteran Parachute Team skydives over Chicago August 17, 2013 during the Shell Air and Water Show. | Jessica Koscielniak/Chicago Sun-Times & Mario Rivera/AVPT

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Updated: September 19, 2013 10:18AM

Jose Castro craned his neck towards the clear blue sky and watched the yellow plane quietly pirouetting high overhead.

The 24-year-old has been attending the Chicago Air and Water Show since he was a little boy.

But one thing was missing Saturday— military planes cutting through the skies.

“It’s still a great show, but it’s still not the same feeling as before,” Castro, of Bridgeport, said.

Because of government budget cuts, military aircrafts and pilots did not participate. That meant no beloved U.S. Navy Blue Angels or U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, among others. Organizers added more civilian aerobatics and jet teams.

At North Avenue Beach, the Brooks family said they were enjoying the show, but said the thrill of the booming military planes was missed.

“It’s not as much of a show,” Milon Brooks, 25, of Oak Park, said.

When asked what his favorite part of the show had been, Jayden, Brooks’ precocious 3-year-old son, who played with a paper airplane, said “helicopter.”

Down the beach, the Rowland family said they were making the best of it without the military planes.

“We would have liked to see them, but it is what it is,” said Joyce Rowland, 58, of Barrington.

And nothing was going to stop Linda Mayer and her friends and family from enjoying the day.

The 62-year-old from Lansing has been attending the show for decades, and on Saturday, Mayer, her daughters and friends were camped out in their traditional spot with lots of comforts, including a plastic inflatable pool filled with water — the spa, they called it.

“It’s my favorite day of the year,” Mayer’s daughter, Michelle Somkovic, 41, of Roscoe Village, said.

Of the military planes, Somkovic said: “Yes , they’re definitely missed, but it’s not going to take away from our tradition.”


Twitter: @schlikerman

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