But then Bobby Herndon, the Mayor of Northport, had to go and write a letter to the editor praising the air show "job well done". Excuse me???
The show itself, by all accounts, WAS spectacular. Everyone we talked to who attended said so. The logistics however, were a complete failure. And if you measure the success of the event by the pre-show hype about potential sales revenue, it was underwhelming.
I own a bakery in downtown Northport, less than three miles from Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, the location of the event. About 150,000 people attended the show on Saturday. Under normal circumstances, you almost have to pass by my shop to get to the airport. But not that day.
You could hardly get to downtown Northport. The streets were blocked by the police directing traffic. We had one of the slowest sales days in our 3-year history.
By all accounts, the shuttle system was grossly inadequate. Three hour delays. Spotty (at best) communication. The police did the best they could to counter the mob mentality developing out of frustration at some of the shuttle stops.
I watched the show from a lawn chair on an elevated walking path down the street from the shop, with about 50-100 other people. I didn't even try to get to the airport because I had a wedding cake to deliver and set up at 6pm, and could not afford to be stuck in traffic. The view was not nearly as good as it would have been at the airport, but it was a very smart call.
It would be less ironic if, a week before the show, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox had not openly bragged about how they snagged the show, and how their experience dealing with football crowds somehow qualified them to deal with this event. I remember the quote "we'll be in game day mode beginning on Thursday."
I didn't feel the need to vent my complaints and frustrations about the show because so many others did, very elegantly, in a plethora of venues. Surely the organizers got the message.
Apparently not the Northport Mayor. Either he's...
- In serious denial
- Just plain ignorant
- Covering his butt
- Kissing Tuscaloosa's butt
- Being a politician
Which do you think?
We'd like to see more of these types of events in Tuscaloosa and Northport. But please... admit the mistakes, learn from them, and promise to do a better job next time. We may not believe you, but at least we'll respect you. A little.