TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A group that advocates for peace says an air show that includes a performance by the Blue Angels, the Navy's flight demonstration squadron, shouldn't be allowed at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City.
"These are instruments of war and have no place at the Cherry Festival," Tim Keenan, president of the area chapter of Northern Michigan Veterans for Peace, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Supporters of the group and others opposed to the show have been raising the issue at city commissioner meetings, as well as holding signs outside the government center before meetings.
Keenan said the Blue Angels' fighter jets are loud enough to break the city's noise ordinance, scare infants, the elderly and animals, and cause problems for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He also argues the jets pollute the environment and burn up taxpayer money.
Keenan said that while accidents are a concern, the push to keep the Blue Angels out of the Cherry Festival has nothing to do with a fatal accident earlier this month involving a Blue Angels jet and pilot near Nashville, Tennessee.
Festival executive director Trevor Tkach said the Blue Angels have been the most popular festival attraction for the past 25 years. He said having the ace pilots fly over Traverse City brings positive attention to the region and the cherry industry.
"It celebrates our Independence Day weekend, it's very patriotic for what it represents," Tkach said.
Tkach said he's heard complaints about the Blue Angels before, but it wasn't a hot topic in 2014 when organizers were working to book the air show. He's also heard complaints about noise in regards to the festival, including those about concerts, midway noise and even cheering crowds.
Tkach said he is listening to feedback from the community.
"I don't want people to think this is something we're ignoring. We are listening," he said. "But we have to weigh everything out, and we've overwhelmingly heard support for the Blue Angels and continuing the type of air show we have."
The festival began on Saturday and runs through July 11. The air show is scheduled for the July Fourth weekend.