North Lake Shore Drive was literally overshadowed as the U.S. Army Parachute Team’s, Golden Knights’ Black and Gold Parachutes, multiple military and vintage planes roared and zipped through the blue skies this past weekend for the 56th annual Chicago Air and Water Show.Over a million spectators hustled along the crowded shores to the lakefront from Fullerton Avenue to Oak Street. The “Boat House” on North Avenue Beach served as the show’s center each day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Gold Demonstration Team led by SFC Dustin Peregrin gave a phenomenal performance for the crowd on Friday and Saturday, but poor weather postponed and eventually canceled the second day.
SPC Dan Osorio jumped in first and then narrated the show beginning with a first time ever joint formation with the Golden Knights, All Veteran Parachute Team and Navy Leap Frogs as they skillfully maneuvered a beautifully formed 3-stack formation.
Members of the AVPT flew in to the “Windy City” with five jumpers donning different parachutes, a variety of flags and ended with and enormous American flag.
Immediately following the AVPT demo, members of the Navy Leap Frog’s and the Golden Knights gracefully flew from far corners of the earth into a magnificent smoke circled mass formation circling high over the great City of Chicago.
The parachuting montage of demonstration scenes subsided with a grand finale with SFC Joe Jones, CSM Thomas Holland and videographer SFC Brian Sealing sweeping across the scenic lake shore with a tandem parachute jump.
Following the jump the team members were introduced to the crowd and did a statuesque team line up as Mr. Ken Breeden and CW4 Ed Schemper the team pilots, picturesquely did a fly-by in the teams exquisite C31 Friendship Fokker.
SFC Peregrin escorted and introduced “Make a Wish” recipient 6-year old Graham Hoekstra to the Team and SGT Blake Gaynor presented Graham with a baton that was passed in mid-air during their demonstration.
Due to inclement weather Sunday was delayed and eventually cancelled, but the Knights’ on the ground carried the show on. Sunday morning at Chicago’s Air and Water show, the Blackhawks’ own Professional Opera Singer, Jim Cornelison got iced by members of the Golden Knights Command, Air Force Heritage Flight pilots, All Veteran Parachute Team and Navy Leap Frogs.
Governor Pat Quinn also took the challenge and even Chicago’s very own Lourdes Duarte stepped up accepting the country’s latest viral craze, which supports a bigger cause; raising awareness and money to fight Lou Gerhig’s Disease, ALS. Those who refuse take the challenge are asked to donate money to help fight ALS.
SFC Derrick Coleman along with the Golden Knights’ Commander, LTC Matthew Weinrich and CSM TJ Holland presented the day’s baton to Chicago Public Schools student and JROTC Cadet, SGM Malik Baker. Malik took a flight with legendary pilot, Sean D. Tucker on Thursday, August 14 as part of the Young Eagles aviation program and the 56th Annual Chicago Air and Water Show.
Chicagoans all over the beach said they were excited this year about the return of military headliners —the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team — after their absence last year because of sequestration due to federal budget cuts.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “The Chicago Air and Water Show is always a summertime favorite providing exciting family entertainment in the skies above Lake Michigan,” “For more than half a century, this event has grown into a spectacular display of aviation’s finest in a unique setting making it a wonderful destination for residents and visitors alike.”