The Blue Angels were to be the stars of the 2013 Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show, but word came down Tuesday that the Navy's precision squadron will not be touring this year because of the federal across-the-board budget cut called sequestration.
"The Blue Angels undoubtedly are our major event each year, and we regret that they did have to cancel. But it does not mean that we could not have an air show. Unfortunately, all the military acts have canceled, so that's what we're looking at now and that's what we're considering," said Maj. Christopher Peloso of the Rhode Island National Guard.
The air show attracts as many as 100,000 visitors over a weekend. It's a huge recruitment tool for the services and an event that some families plan for all year. Peloso said it's also a chance for the Rhode Island National Guard to show the public what it does.
"Part of the open house is to open our gates and to explain to the community and show them what we do here in the Rhode Island National Guard," Peloso said.
He said the loss of the show is not something the National Guard wants to happen. The air show committee will be meeting to decide whether to have an open house and perhaps some civilian air acts or to cancel the weekend entirely.
"Tomorrow, the air show committee is going to be convening and looking at all the options on whether or not to cancel the air show, on whether there might possibly some type of community event during that weekend of June," Peloso said.
In addition to good will, the Quonset air show has generated $1.7 million for charity over the past 15 years. The National Guard asks for a $10 donation for every parked car for Hasbro Children's Hospital.
The National Guard said all options are on the table. The guard may have a decision in two or three days.
The federal government said it will save about $28 million by grounding the Blue Angels for the rest of the year.