• Beloved Blue Angels air shows on government chopping block


    SEATTLE - The roaring sound of the Blue Angels that has become synonymous with Seattle summers will likely be silenced if budget cuts aren’t averted Friday.

     The U.S. Navy confirmed last month that it plans to cancel the Blue Angels air show at Seafair this summer if Congress and the president cannot work out a budget deal and head off big automatic government cutbacks.

    The cutbacks will start sometime Friday if new spending legislation is not approved.

     The Navy said that if a deal is not done, the automatic cuts would cancel all Blue Angels shows in the last half of the year, including the popular show at the big Seafair weekend in August, for a savings of $20 million.

    For now, the Blues are still scheduled to come to town the first weekend of August.

    In the meantime, the Blues will practice as scheduled in Pensacola, Fla. on Mar. 20.

    "We are moving forward as scheduled until directed to do otherwise and do not have any status updates at this time," Blue Angels public affairs chief Russell Tafuri said in an email to AL.com. "If and when we receive directives to amend our current operations, we will forward that news as soon as it becomes available for release."

    President Barack Obama confirmed Friday there will be no last-minute deal to avoid the spending cuts.

    Seafair sent a letter to congressional leaders.  An excerpt of the letter is below.

    "Dear to the hearts of Puget Sound residents is the viability of the Navy’s Blue Angel program. For over 40 years, the Blue Angels have become iconic with our Seafair community celebration. While the soaring magnificence of the performance jet team thrills Washingtonians throughout the region, having the 80-person team plus friends and family in town for 7 days brings a significant economic impact to the region as well. They represent Seafair and the Puget Sound region’s strong ties to the military – the combination of Fleet Week on the waterfront plus the Blue Angels soaring in our skies during the first week of every August allows our region to gain knowledge, celebrate and thank the military for the value they bring to our community. The U.S. Navy is an anticipated and celebrated presence in Seattle each year.

    Seafair, which recently won Best Fair / Festival in the world from international publication Special Events Magazine, has been the Puget Sound summer festival for nearly 65 years. With 5,000 volunteers and dozens of Seafair events around the region annually, it touches over one million lives every summer and creates an economic impact of over $50 million annually. To say that the Blue Angels are iconic with this tradition speaks volumes to the value we place on our relationship with the Navy.

     Undoubtedly you are hearing from many constituents on numerous issues impacted by these deficit negotiations. We understand the difficulty of this situation. Regardless, I hope to ensure you know that this particular line-item really does matter out here in the Puget Sound, and you add this to your list of programs to support as Congress hopefully moves forward and reaches agreement."

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