Four days of events to honor both local airmen and the area’s aviation heritage could collectively bring more than 100,000 people and pump millions into the local economy.
The Dayton Development Coalition announced on Thursday that its 2014 Hometown Heroes program will include a slate of events from June 26-June 29, dubbed the Star Spangled Celebration. It will begin with a Jeff Foxworthy performance at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, continue with the Freedom’s Call Celebration at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and conclude with two days of the Vectren Dayton Air Show.
Organizers say the focus will be on the airmen from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Springfield Air National Guard Base. According to the Dayton Development Coalition, more than 27,000 jobs in the Dayton region are located at Wright-Patt and the Springfield Air National Guard Base. The economic impact of the federal defense installations has been between $3.5 billion and $5 billion over the past 10 years.
“The stars aligned and we were able to pull it all together,” Dayton Development Coalition President and CEO Jeff Hoagland said of the Hometown Heroes weekend. “It really showcases the aviation heritage that we have today, in the past and (also) moving forward.”
The free-of-charge Freedom’s Call celebration will be held June 27 on the grounds of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Col. Cassie B. Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing commander at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said she expected the event to draw between 50,000 and 70,000 people.
“(It) really has something for everyone — from the smallest of our fans to the oldest of our fans,” she said.
Last year’s Freedom’s Call event was limited to fireworks, and two years ago it was cancelled because of a massive thunder storm that swept through the area. This year’s events will include music performances, food and drink vendors and activities for kids. It will also feature fireworks again.
The weekend wraps with the Vectren Dayton Air Show June 28 and 29, which organizers say could draw as many as 70,000 people and generate more than $3 million for the local economy. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier will be featured.
“This is a partnership that we talked about last year, but the timing wasn’t right,” Hoagland said. “We were able to pull it off this year … It’s a way of thanking (airmen) for what they do for our country.”