CREATED Apr. 3, 2013
Bellevue, NE -- On Wednesday, Offutt Air Force Base announced the annual Defenders of Freedom Air Show, which was scheduled for August, will not happen this year.
"It's really the funding decisions, the uncertainty and impacts of sequestration in Washington that led us to cancel it," said Col. John Rauch, the 55th Wing Commander.
Since 1972, there has been one weekend each summer when thousands of people flood into Bellevue for the show.
"We value having the public on the base and being able to see what our service members do each and every day," said Col. Rauch. "(It) gives everybody a chance to see what is going on, and it's a chance for us to give back to the community."
The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce said the cancellation could have a major impact on the entire community.
"People come into town and stay for the event," said chamber president Jim Ristow. "It's something that they look forward to. Dollar wise, I couldn't put an exact science to it, but there will definitely be a hit on the entertainment side for people who come in here."
Local restaurants didn't necessarily see it that way.
Amy Chaon, an employee at Jammers Pub in Bellevue, said she doesn't expect a major financial loss.
Chaon said she would rather they cut the air show than add to the financial burden many of those on base are already feeling.
"It's disappointing because families enjoy watching, and the kids love it," said Chaon. But if they're going to make budget cuts, I'm glad they're doing in that way rather than doing furloughs and cutting wages and jobs."
Last year's show cost about $200,000. It's a figure officials said they just can't spend this year.
As for 2014, planning has already begun, but Offutt won't know if the show will go on until this winter.