For those who are accustomed to disappointment dished out by Mother Nature at Tacoma’s annual Freedom Fair event, there was something to celebrate Saturday.
The flying conditions were perfect, the breezes were balmy, and to stroll along Tacoma’s Ruston Way Saturday was nearly everything that is good about summertime.
Thousands turned out not only to mark the nation’s birthday, but also to soak in the sunshine and inhale the smells of summer: burgers on the grill, corn roasting on the cob, and the aroma of aviation fuel from high-performance planes flying acrobatic stunts overhead.
Temperatures were in the high 70s and mid 80s during much of the Freedom Fair festivities Saturday in contrast to the chilly weather that has sometimes plagued the celebration in the past.
That pleasant atmosphere along with musical entertainment, a pole-vaulting contest, the head-turning air show and a plethora of food booths ranging from barbecue to corn dogs were enough to entice some fairgoers to make a day of it.
Among those were Bridget and Christopher Lemley of Edgewood. At midday Saturday, they intended to walk the length of Ruston Way’s lineal park until the sky was dark enough shortly after 10 to take in the community fireworks display. In the meanwhile, they were sampling the goods from the waterfront booths. They praised the quality of the food — particularly the feta cheese fries available from one vendor.
For Michelle Sorum of Federal Way, walking the Ruston Way waterfront was hardly unfamiliar. She and her two dogs come nearly every day to enjoy the views and the exercise.
“This is our ‘go to’ place,” she said.
Rudy Qui Chocho of Port Orchard brought his son and godson to the celebration Saturday to check out the air show.
That air show was staged by civilian pilots, with the exception of a sole C-17 transport from Joint Base Lewis McChord. It featured precision formation flying, aerial acrobatics and performance demonstrations from such rare aircraft as an A4 Skyhawk and a Russian SU-29.
The high-performance flying included demonstrations by two P-51 World War II-era fighters and piston engine Harvard trainers.
Area aviation enthusiasts will have a second chance to experience the aircraft featured in the show Sunday.
Gig Harbor Wings and Wheels at the Tacoma Narrows Airport will give attendees the chance to see the planes up close as well as an exhibit of vintage cars. That event will be held at the airport from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.