While many were saddened to hear the Salute to Veterans celebration was canceled this Memorial Day weekend due to flooding, organizers of the airshow promised to return to Jefferson City next year.
The Salute to Veterans Airshow, hosted by the Memorial Day Weekend Salute to Veterans Corporation, was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport but was canceled Tuesday due to anticipated flooding. Associated events like the Honored Guests Banquet, the Old Soldier's Show and Media Day were also canceled.
This was the first time in the celebration's 31-year history that organizers had to cancel the airshow, said Mary McCleary Posner, chairwoman of the Memorial Day Weekend Salute to Veterans Corporation.
"My heart breaks, not for me but for all of the people who we wanted to remember and honor," she said.
Since the airshow was previously held at the Columbia Regional Airport — 2019 would have been its first year in Jefferson City — the organization "never had an airport flood in the past," Salute to Veterans Media Chair Jessica Houston said.
"We've dealt with rain, and we've always said, 'If we can't get something up in the air, we can at least have a static ramp open and stuff like that, still walk around and do autographs and interviews," she said. "But without even a static ramp, there's nowhere to go."
The event attracts 10,000-35,000 people every year, Smith said previously.
Brittney Mormann, communications and film manager for the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the CVB was "disappointed" the airshow was canceled since it would have attracted thousands of people to Jefferson City.
"Despite all the planning in the world, some things, such as weather, are simply out of our control," she said.
Monday's 10 a.m. parade in downtown Jefferson City is still scheduled, Houston said. However, the parade chair will decide Thursday whether to continue with or adjust the parade.
McCleary Posner said residents can look forward to the airshow in Jefferson City next year, though.
"Next year's airshow will be in Jefferson City, Missouri. You can take it to the bank, to the newspaper, to your office, to the world," she said. "That is an absolute, flat-out guarantee."
Before this year's event was canceled, McCleary Posner said, she had already planned for the airshow to return to Jefferson City. She noted she was impressed by the community support.
The city moved its airplanes and equipment out of the airport Tuesday in anticipation of the flood, Jefferson City Operations Director Britt Smith said. Those with property within that area were encouraged to "take the same precautions that they deem appropriate," he added.
While the city had anticipated using much of its resources and staff for the airport, Smith said, it moved to diverting those toward the flooding.
"We had staffed up — public safety was staffed up, public works was staffed up for doing an airshow this weekend," he said. "Well, it's kind of the same staff, but we're not going to do an airshow; we're going to do something else."
The Jefferson City fire and police departments had development incident action plans for the airshow, Fire Department spokesman Jason Turner said. However, he added, they are now "putting it in the save file and breaking out an incident accident plan on flooding."
This article was updated at 4:20 p.m. May 21, 2019, with additional deatails.