ATLANTIC CITY (August 23, 2018) – The 2018 Atlantic City Airshow was good enough reason Wednesday for Gaetano Nicosia to take the day off from his job as a carpenter at the University of Pennsylvania.
Nicosia, 59, of Ridley, Pennsylvania, decided to attend the airshow for the first time because it offered him a chance to spend a day on the beach with his son, Joey Nicosia, 29, of South Philadelphia.
“I have always been fascinated by airplanes, and I have been wanting to come for years,” said the elder Nicosia, who added he used to catch the Army-Navy college football game just to see the flybys, which would last about five seconds.
The Atlantic City Airshow, aka Thunder Over the Boardwalk, is Atlantic City’s single largest free event and the largest airshow of its kind.
Crowds Wednesday were estimated at “upwards of 400,000 to a half a million people, which is great for midweek,” said Larry Sieg, director of communications and marketing with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. In 2017, the Greater Atlantic City Chamber estimated airshow visitors at 400,000.
The airshow looks to have attracted the second highest number of people to the resort this year, after the dual openings of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino in late June. And, for a city that last year saw the fewest visitors since 1982, Wednesday’s show meant a potentially big boost to the city’s tourism economy.
“The airshow will perhaps act as a catalyst for those thinking about a trip to A.C. to see the new properties. This should, in turn, positively impact room revenue, food and beverage and possibly gaming revenue as well, allowing for a complete destination experience,” said Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University.
Last year’s 24.1 million tourist visits to the resort marked a 1.2 percent decrease from the previous year’s 24.4 million, according to a report from the Levenson Institute, which noted 22.9 million people visited the resort in 1982.
The historic dual openings of the Hard Rock and Ocean Resort on June 28 likely will finish at No. 1 for tourists visits this year, according to traffic data released this summer.
Based on unofficial traffic figures provided by the South Jersey Transportation Authority from the Atlantic City Expressway’s Pleasantville Toll Plaza, 818,255 toll-paying vehicles went into and out of the resort between June 27 and July 8, the first 12 days those two casinos were open.
Wednesday’s 16th annual airshow featured the GEICO Skytypers, who maneuvered World War II-era aircraft; the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army’s official aerial parachute demonstration team; and the U.S. Air Force’s official air demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, who flew F-16s; as well as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, performing for what was believed to be the first time in Atlantic City.
Lew and Julie Taylor, of Philadelphia, attended the airshow for the first time as a family with their children, Savannah, 4, and Quentin, 18 months.
Lew Taylor, 28, said he used to see the show with his father annually. The past few years, Taylor has been busy working and hasn’t been able to. His wife grew up on an Air Force base.
The Taylors left home at 5:30 a.m. to arrive in the resort at 6:30. Lew Taylor was off Wednesday from his job at Aramark Corp., but Julie Taylor, 42, took off from her administrative coordinator position with the School of Medicine at Temple University.
“I’ve been to a few, so I knew it would be enjoyable,” Lew Taylor said. “I think his (Quentin’s) first words were airplane.”
Never miss breaking news as it happens! Sign up now to receive alerts delivered to your inbox.