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Chris Chelios to kick off Air & Water Show with tandem parachute jump

The Hockey Hall of Famer will land at North Avenue Beach on Saturday morning, officially signaling the start of the 61st annual show.

Former NHL player Chris Chelios attends the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational at Shadow Creek, Nevada, in 2014.
Former NHL player Chris Chelios attends the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational at Shadow Creek, Nevada, in 2014.
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Chris Chelios will officially open the Chicago Air & Water Show on Saturday by tandem jumping with the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team.

The Hockey Hall of Famer will land at North Avenue Beach, 1600 N. Lake Shore Drive., at 10 a.m., kicking off the 61st annual show, which can be viewed from the lakefront between Fullerton and Oak Street.

Chelios said he’s jumping in honor of all active military members and veterans, including his late father, who served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

“I wish he was still here to see this, but I don’t know if he’d be in favor of it. I probably won’t tell my mom until she sees it on the news so she doesn’t get too excited,” Chelios said.

Chelios’ immediate family will watch the jump from a boat on the lake near North Avenue Beach, which is the show’s central point. After landing, he’ll get a ride out to their boat and spend the day celebrating with them.

“I’ve been going to the Air & Water Show for years, so it’s great to be a part of something that brings thousands of people together to honor our military,” Chelios said. “It unites people to show our respect and give thanks for everything the military does to make our country the greatest and safest.”

The Chicago Air and Water Show can be viewed along the lakefront between Fullerton and Oak Street. | Courtesy DCASE

Chelios said the Blackhawks have a long-standing relationship with the U.S.O. The team, which has given more than $1 million to support the U.S.O., will also honor service members during its Nov. 10 Veterans Day game against Toronto.

While he has never parachuted, Chelios said it’s something he’s always wanted to do. When he was approached with this opportunity, he quickly accepted.

“As a retired athlete, you need a good adrenaline rush every once in a while,” Chelios said. “I’ve always done things like parasailing or jumping off cliffs when I was younger, so this jump should do the trick for a while.”

The Air & Water Show runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 17–18. Herb Hunter will return as “Voice of the Show,” entertaining with his show commentary as he’s done for more than 20 years.

Other performers include: the U.S. Navy Blue Angels; the British Red Arrows aerobatic team of the Royal Air Force; the USAF F-22 Raptor; the USAF F-16 Viper; the USMC MV-22 Osprey; the USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II; the USAF KC-135 Stratotanker; the U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter; the Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue Unit; a Chicago Police Department helicopter; Susan Dacy in the Super Stearman; The Firebirds Delta Team; aerobatic pilot Matt Chapman and more.

For more information, visit chicagoairandwatershow.us.

This year’s Chicago Air & Water Show performers include the British Red Arrows aerobatic team. | Courtesy DCASE