Gary Can't Afford 2017 Air Show, Mayor Says

The Gary Air Show may not go on.

The northwest Indiana city cannot take on the amount of debt required to host the two-day event without sponsorship, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said in a statement Friday.

“The risk inherent in incurring a $350,000 debt without having secured all of the sponsors cannot be justified under our current financial conditions,” Freeman-Wilson’s statement reads. “Our first job is to be a good stewards and our team has determined that we cannot afford to host the Gary Air Show.”

The air show, held each July over Lake Michigan, began in 2000 and typically attracts thousands of people to the city’s beaches, including Marquette Park – one of its “greatest jewels,” along with the Gary/Chicago International Airport, that the mayor said the event provides an opportunity to “show off.”

Earlier this week, the city’s director of communications LaLosa Burns told the Northwest Indiana Times that Monday is the deadline to notify air teams slated to perform.

Burns said that the city contributes approximately $50,000 to the show for public safety measures, but cannot afford the remaining costs, according to the NWI Times.

While Freeman-Wilson’s statement indicated that she is fully prepared to cancel the show, she also appeared hopeful that she and other officials might find corporate backers for the event.

“We know that a fully sponsored show is attainable and we will begin immediately to work on making that happen,” her statement ends.

The event was canceled in 2013 due to federal budget cuts, and again the following year over cost concerns.

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