Second Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow sets record attendance of 1 million, organizers say – OCRegister
HUNTINGTON BEACH The second Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow staged over the weekend was a success, with attendance at 1 million, double that of last year, organizers told city leaders.
“We feel comfortable saying this was the largest outdoor event to take place in California this year,” Mike McCabe, president and director of air shows for Air Support, which produced the event, told the City Council on Monday night, Oct. 2.
He added that plans are already underway for next year’s show, which will be Oct. 19-21 and will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
The appearance of the renowned Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Squadron, arguably the most famed military flying group in the world, along with word of mouth likely added to the larger crowds this year, McCabe said.
Police Chief Robert Handy said the crowd at the air show was like any other on a busy summer weekend. There were no arrests at the event venue, he said.
Fire Chief David Segura said although there were some ambulance transports from the beach, the number was small considering the crowds.
“There was nothing significant,” Segura said. “It was a very well-run event and a very safe event.”
Although coastal fog and a thick marine layer forced cancellation of the rehearsal on Friday, Sept. 29, the event went off as planned on Saturday and Sunday.
McCabe said aerial photos showed the beaches packed with people from Seal Beach to Newport Beach.
It is unclear, however, whether the event was financially solvent. In August, organizers had projected losses of $350,000, after a loss of $395,000 in the first year. The city helped event organizers by applying a projected $100,000 in parking fees to safety and public works fees. The city doubled its beach parking fees for the weekend and said it would use excess money as an offset to its costs.
Organizers were also given a 45-day grace period for certain payments to the city.
One large concession requested by the organizers was not granted. The city had been asked to agree to a 50 percent cap on its billing for safety and public works, which is estimated at more than $209,000 for the three-day event. Those costs will be paid by the promoter.
Proponents of the show estimated the event brought in $500,000 in hotel taxes alone and $5 million to $8 million in added spending in the city last year and that returns should be healthy once again.
McCabe said he expects the event to pick up investors and revenues as it gains traction and becomes established as an annual event.