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When it rains, Chicago Air and Water Show soars

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over North Avenue Beach Satuday during the 58th annual Chicago Air & Water Show. | Lou Foglia / Sun-Times

The 58th annual Chicago Air and Water Show was off to a late start Saturday because of heavy rain that caused a delay, but that was only a minor inconvenience for Michelle Roach, 44, and her mother, Linda Lou, 66.

They had been waiting outdoors since 7:30 a.m. and weren’t about to let a little rain dampen their day.

“It was raining sideways out here, but we took shelter under a little tent until it cleared,” Roach said after the spectacle got under way about an hour late. “Nothing can stop this show from going. This is our favorite day of the year. So we’re determined to have a good time.


Roach first came to the Chicago Air and Water Show with her mother 35 years ago. Since then, it’s become a family tradition.

Michelle Roach, and her mother, Linda Lou, at the Chicago Air and Water Show on Saturday. Jacob Wittich / Sun-Times

Michelle Roach, and her mother, Linda Lou, at the Chicago Air and Water Show on Saturday. Jacob Wittich / Sun-Times

“We’re fascinated by airplanes and want to support our military,” Lou said. “That’s what makes us come out here. We’re proud of our country, and we love to be here to support it as much as we can.”

Once the rain passed, throngs crowded the show’s main viewing spot at North Avenue Beach and other spots along the lakefront between Oak Street and Fullerton Avenue.

“The weather cleared up nicely, and the rain is gone,” said Beverly Davison, 56, who came to the show with her 14-year-old daughter. “You just have to get over it because the show isn’t cancelled. We’re all still having fun.”

It was Davison’s first time there. She said she was fascinated by the display because she has a friend who’s a retired pilot and used to fly planes like the ones featured this weekend.


Beverly Davison, 56, at her first Chicago Air and Water Show. | Jacob Wittich / Sun-Times

“He used to be the one in the cockpit and trained people to fly these planes, so it’s amazing to see what they can do,” she said.

The show, which is free, continues Sunday, when the high temperature is forecast to be a comfortable 76 degrees with a 20 percent chance of showers.

Former Chicago Bears player Charles Tillman was scheduled to open the show Saturday by jumping with the he U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, but Saturday’s rain delay pushed back his jump to Sunday.