Fair Weather Friends

    For a fair, it just wasn’t fair.

    The Muskegon Air Fair over the Fourth of July weekend had all the power of a damp bottle rocket.

    But don’t blame the organizers, who somehow put on the 21st annual show despite weather that was far less than cooperative.

    “We simply had bad luck with weather again this year,” said ChrisKelly, chairman of the nonprofit event. “The show lineup was fantastic and the weather forecast and conditions, at times, was terrible.”

    Rain, low ceilings and poor visibility combined to limit the 2004 event to approximately 32,000 spectators, far below initial projections.

    So despite the presence of the Canadian Snowbirds jet demonstration team and Gen. PaulTibbets, commander of the Enola Gay of atomic bomb fame, the show fizzled.

    Kelly said the air fair met neither spectator nor budgetary expectations, although the Friday Night Runway Bash (under beautiful skies) was a runaway success.

    “Fortunately, we were able to get all our flying in on Saturday and most of Sunday,” Kelly said.

    So has a run of bad weather shot down the popular Muskegon attraction for good?

    Hardly, said Kelly. Despite the poor 2004 results, organizers are moving ahead with plans for next year. Kelly said the show hopes to land either the U.S. Navy Blue Angels or U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds for a mid-June or August show.

    Actual show dates will depend on the availability of the jet teams, he said.

    • Not all is woe in the Port City, however. In fact, a ray of sunshine is coming to the hardcourts.

    The Michigan Mayhem, the minor league basketball team forming in Muskegon, has met the terms and conditions for entry this fall into the Continental Basketball Association.

    Since receiving a CBA franchise last November, Mayhem owners have made “great strides” in securing corporate sponsorships and in season ticket sales, CBA Commissioner GaryHunter said. Attaining a certain level of sponsorships and season ticket sales were the two top requirements the Mayhem needed to meet to finalize entry into the league for the 2004-05 CBA season, Hunter said.

    “Their front office has done a tremendous job so far, and we look forward to the first season of Michigan Mayhem basketball in the CBA,” he said.

    The Mayhem will begin its inaugural season in the eight-team CBA on Nov. 19, playing home games in the L.C. Walker Arena in downtown Muskegon, when the league begins its 58th season.

    Still to come for team owner JannieScott and General Manager PeterJackson is hiring a coaching staff and assembling a team roster. The CBA is also preparing to release a regular season schedule, conference alignments and a new playoff format.

    Scott, the first African-American woman to own a majority share of a pro sports franchise, has said she wants the Mayhem to serve as a draw for downtown Muskegon that can contribute to the economic rebirth of the business district.

    I am extremely proud and ecstatic that we have met all of the league membership requirements for entry into the CBA,” Scott said. “The Mayhem is thrilled to step up to the plate and play a major role in the revitalization of downtown Muskegon.”

    • Travel writers from major newspapers in Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Canada (and others) turned up for a “familiarization tour” Wednesday, and after a day at Meijer Gardens (“impressive”) and touring downtown, were hosted at a reception at Cygnus on Thursday. The owners of the SoFu district restaurants all attended, and the reporters planned to split up for dinner between The BOB, Tres Cugini and Sierra Room.

    Mayor George (with GRMAYOR in the audience) provided the official welcome, laced with facts about the GR economy (“We are not just manufacturing…”) and community heritage.

    He introduced fellow leaders in the reception crowd, including former Ambassador PeterSecchia

    Secchia noted he was wearing casual dress in the mostly suited crowd and said it was because “all the journalists I’ve ever met dress like slobs.”

    Heartwell picked right back up with Logie’s introduction, and though the former mayor took annual potshots at The Press in each of his 12 years of State of the City addresses, he refrained from such remarks last week.

    The tour was sponsored by the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau and West Michigan Tourism Association. The group was headed to Lake Michigan (Holland and Grand Haven) over the weekend.

    • Michigan Dems had a busy week last week, setting their sights on none other than RalphNader, that well-known closet Republican.

    In a letter to Nader, Brewer contended that Nader should refuse the assistance of the Michigan Republican Party to qualify him for the ballot as an independent presidential candidate in the state’s November general election.

    Brewer claims there are many “reliable reports” from around the state that Republicans, including “paid staffers” from the state GOP, are distributing petitions and gathering signatures to get Nader on the ballot, ostensibly to dilute the Democratic vote.

    Who knew politics could be so much fun?

    • Well, it had to happen — Chicken Little has swooped down like a hawk in California again.

    That state’s Tow Truck Association is warning its members to beware of collisions involving the new Toyota Prius, the 42-mile-per-gallon hybrid car.

    Some members of the association say members should deal with a wrecked Prius the same as they would with live power lines. You know, that great big storage battery could really zap a fellow, so you’d best wear rubber boots and gloves.

    Moreover, they fear that if one of the cars is turned over, spilled battery acid could be a personal and environmental hazard.

    Toyota claims the Prius is equipped with safety cutoffs that prevent post-accident electrocutions and notes, moreover, that its batteries are sealed, just like all car batteries today.

    But the firm’s managers and workers must be gulping deeply and feeling like targets in a shooting gallery with rifles under the concentrated aim of EPA, the Consumer Product Safety Council, the Trial Lawyers Association and its two most famous members, JohnEdwards and Nader, who are aspirants to national office in an election year.

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