For too long, this area has failed to capitalize on projects that were supposed to enhance the tourism industry. One of those projects — the Atlantic City Airshow, Thunder Over the Boardwalk — has succeeded in becoming one of Atlantic City’s major attractions.
In the past two years, the event has drawn more than 1.25 million people to Atlantic City. Since its inception, many of us in the community have come up with ideas to bring people here before the air show and keep them here for several hours after it ends. These ideas ranged from concerts on the beach to a major fireworks display. Unfortunately, all of these ideas continue to sit on the table. None have become a reality.
It is time to enhance the air show in a way that will draw people to Atlantic City on Monday and keep them here through Wednesday with a variety of exciting events. I have been one of those advocating concerts. However, the acts that would draw several hundred thousand people are quite costly, and it is difficult to raise the funds.
Each year, a dinner is held on the eve of the air show for all of the participants and invited guests of the hotel that is sponsoring the event. I have been invited to go to these dinners, and it has always been a good experience to be able to personally talk with the military personnel and civilians who are part of the show.
In August, I ran into a colleague in the media, and I mentioned to him that we’ve been trying to bring in a concert that would draw a big crowd. I told him the most difficult part was finding the necessary funding. He told me he spoke to some members of the air show committee about possibly having a parade on the Boardwalk the eve of the event.
It was as though a big lightbulb illuminated in my head, and I said, “Wow! That’s a great idea.” He told me no one followed through on the idea, and it was dropped. I told him I would make sure we have a parade on the Boardwalk in the 2011 Atlantic City Airshow. It was quite bold of me to make that statement, but I truly believe there are many people in the community who would help make this idea a reality.
Just think what it would be like to have a parade that would be “Atlantic City’s Salute to the Armed Forces” on the Boardwalk the Monday evening before the air show. Members of all of our armed forces are involved in the air show, and we would have some of them riding in convertibles waving to the crowd. Veterans organizations would also have representatives marching in the parade.
The following week, I attended a fundraiser for the Rotary Club on the beach in front of the Hilton and I spoke with Joe Kelley, the president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, about a parade, and he was enthusiastic about it. At the same event, I spoke with Rep. Frank LoBiondo, and I asked him to become involved by arranging to have a military band from each of the services participate. He said as soon as I gave him the date that he would work on it. I also spoke with Charlie Coyle, who is the parade director maven in South Jersey, and told him of my idea and he said he and his volunteers would be happy to be a part of it.
Kelley said it would be nice to have the parade Monday evening, and he would like to bring something never before seen in Atlantic City: a nighttime air show for Tuesday evening. Yes, they do have nighttime air shows that are operated by civilian pilots whose planes are all lit up. This fits in perfectly since during the day Tuesday there is a run-through of all the participants in Thunder Over The Boardwalk. A nighttime air show would be a perfect event to entertain our residents and visitors Tuesday evening.
Is this a pipe dream? Could it become a reality? I believe so! It is time to make a project like this happen. It can be done if all those necessary to make it happen are willing to come together at a meeting and provide Atlantic City with a three-day event. Without a doubt, it would draw hundreds of thousands more people to what I still believe is the “Playground of the World,” Atlantic City. Your public response and support of this idea can make the difference in whether it is going to happen or if it will be another one of those events that is talked about and never becomes a reality. You can help make it happen. Please respond to this column.
Bob Corson, of Corson Contractors and Engineers, informed me that I had erred in my statements relative to lights on the Boardwalk and the city. He said burned-out bulbs are replaced every month. He also noted that if you drive around town, you will not find many street lights burned out because they are replaced on a regular basis. As to my statement, “that it is time to light up the rest of the city as well to make everyone feel more comfortable walking at night,” he said the rest of the city, excluding The Walk, is well-lit and the lighting is well-maintained.
Notes of interest
While in Los Angeles, I had lunch at Langer’s famous delicatessen with Bo Zenga, a Margate native who now lives in the former Hollywood mansion of TV legends Ozzie and Harriet. Zenga is the favorite of the “A list” with such distinguished talents as Steven Spielberg, Nicolas Cage, Ron Howard, Will Smith and John Travolta, who have all been attached to his projects. We reminisced about the time I visited him in the Atlantic City Hospital, where he had a serious eye problem and nearly went blind. As a result of that visit, Zenga’s father donated $1,000 to the March of Dimes Telethon that I was involved with at that time. It’s nice to see another local guy do well in Hollywood.
Brigantine residents will soon have another famous person living on their fine island. Patrick Kennedy, son of the recently deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy, is known to have purchased a house there. It is not clear yet if he will make it his permanent home.
Latest word is that the CRDA is having talks with prospective supermarket operators from a nearby famous city. We’re all hoping a deal to create a new supermarket is consummated.
(Pinky’s Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky’s Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, "WMGM Presents Pinky," airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC TV40. Pinky's e-mail address is: email@example.com.)