Thousands watch a scaled back Air and Water Show

Crowds flooded the lakefront today for Chicago’s annual Air and Water Show.

It’s the largest free show of its kind in the U.S. and can be viewed along the city’s lakefront with North Avenue Beach as the focal point.

The Rood family came here from Bloomington to take it in.

“It’s the first time we’ve been here, so it’s cool. We have a nephew in the Air Force so it’s kind of cool to see the planes and see what he’s doing too, said Tim and Stacie Rood.

But for the first time in the show’s 55 year history, this year’s Air and Water Show will look and sound a little bit different; because of government budget cuts, military planes and boats will not be participating.

Their absence was filled by civilians flying military craft like the Sea Harrier, and the All Veteran Parachute Team.

“I know because of this sequester thing we don’t have the military people here that we want, but we have veterans, combat veterans who are still serving and still giving back,” said Mike Elliott, All Veteran Parachute Team President

This year’s show also brought Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison down to earth to perform.

“Seeing the city like that, flying by the Sears Tower this morning, it was fantastic,” Cornelison said.

The show will continue Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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