CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s eyes will be on the skies and the waves at the lakefront this weekend, for the 59th annual Air and Water Show, but Friday’s rehearsals were a show all their own.
Dozens of spectators hit the sand at North Avenue Beach to watch the U.S. Army Golden Knights and other acts practice their routines on Friday.
For some fans, it’s a tradition to watch rehearsals, instead of the big show on Saturday and Sunday.
“This is easier. Not a lot of people,” Steve Antos said. “I don’t like big crowds, so that’s why I come on Friday. It’s the best time to come.”
The Golden Knights staked their claim at North Avenue Beach early on Friday. Every year, the parachute team kicks off the Chicago Air and Water Show with a celebrity tandem jump. Last year, it was former Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. This year, it’s former Cubs catcher and World Series champion David Ross.
“We’re very excited, and we’re honored to have him,” Golden Knights Col. Carlos Ramos said.
Also part of the show this weekend are the self-proclaimed “hometown boys of northern Illinois,” the Aerostars precision aerobatic team. The Cary-based formation flight team loves performing for friends and family in Chicago. They said they began preparing for the Air Show in the winter.
“We begin our workups in January, as soon as we finish the maintenance on the aircraft. So, literally, we’re beginning sometimes flying our routines while it’s snowing out right here in northern Illinois,” Aerostars pilot Paul Hornick said.
Friday’s rehearsals continue through the afternoon.
Up to 2 million people are expected to pack the lakefront on Saturday and Sunday to watch the real thing.