A record crowd of more than 550,000 people took to the Atlantic City beaches on Aug. 24 to take in sights and sounds of the Meet AC Atlantic City Airshow.
The crowds that packed the beaches on a hot and sunny day watched one of the most impressive lineups in the history of the show take to the skies.
Notable performers included the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds, the long-awaited reappearance of the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet “Rhino” East Coast Demo Team, as well as civilian acts, such as Chris Thomas Airshows, Paul Dougherty Airshows, Full Throttle Formation Team, and Jim Beasley.
Michael Chait, Greater Atlantic City Chamber president and an organizer for the event, said that to set such a record, it takes a lot of people pulling together and lot of things going right, starting from the weather, which he said fortunately went well.
“There’s so much collaboration and coordination that has to go right to pull of an event of this size,” Chait told NJBIZ.
He noted that in 2020 there was no show and last year’s planning was rushed because of the uncertainty from COVID still lingering. So this year’s event offered an opportunity to plan thoroughly. Chait made a point to credit the community and surrounding businesses for their buy-in to make it such a success.
“There’s so many different layers and so many different elements that there’s nothing comparable to what goes into producing a show like this and the amount of volunteerism and spirit of community and pride,” Chait explained. “There’s a tremendous amount of pride.”
While Chait and organizers anticipated enormous demand, this turnout exceeded their wildest expectations.
“We did not anticipate having 550,000 people in Atlantic City,” said Chait. “It is an unbelievable accomplishment, and it took an entire team to put together.”
He also credited Meet AC for stepping up after the presenting sponsor dropped out.
“Meet AC really stepped up and saved the Airshow,” said Chait. “They provided the financial resources to give us the flexibility to go out there and book good performers.”
While the economic impact is being studied, Chait is hopeful that it breaks the previous high-water mark of $70 million in 2019, when the attendance was between 480,000 and 500,000.
The event also offered an opportunity for Atlantic City to showcase many of the new non-gaming developments and amenities that so many of the properties invested in. Many properties have been betting big on development, especially in the non-gaming space.
Chait said he was born and raised in Atlantic City and has loved watching as the destination has reinvented itself, crediting casino leadership for consistently investing more in their properties and redeveloping to give visitors a different experience. He says that most airshows make their money on concessions and ticket sales, but the Atlantic City Airshow, which is free, does not.
“We want people to come in town and not eat concessions,” said Chait. “We want them to go in the restaurants and to the Boardwalk stores and to the retail shops. That creates the experience for them to potentially come back and leave Atlantic City with a wonderful memory.”
Chait said he loved seeing the spirit of the community in pulling off an event that benefits so many and inspired the area youth.
“We did this together.”v