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First Offutt Air Force Base scrubs 2017 air show, now ‘Navy Week’ is canceled, too

Five members from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team fly their F/A-18 Hornet aircrafts during day one of the 2014 Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show at the Offutt Air Force Base.

Six weeks after the 55th Wing canceled Offutt Air Force Base’s annual air show for 2017, the Navy is pulling the plug on “Navy Week” as well.

The public relations event — which typically features band concerts involving Navy musicians, visits by sailors to local schools, and meet-and-greets between business leaders and Navy brass — had been planned for the week leading up to the Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show July 1 and 2.

The Navy Blue Angels precision flight team had been scheduled to headline.

But Col. Marty Reynolds, 55th Wing commander, announced early last month that the show was being scrubbed because of high demand for the unit’s reconnaissance aircraft. He also didn’t wish to deny Offutt airmen a Fourth of July holiday.

At the time, officials with the Navy’s Office of Community Outreach — which puts on the Navy Week events — said they weren’t sure how the cancellation would affect its planning.

But on Tuesday, the office published a list of 15 Navy Week events planned for 2017 across the country.

The list didn’t include Omaha. The nearest one is in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, July 17-23.

“It’s unfortunate. (Navy Week) is a great venue for the American people to see the Navy as it is,” said Walter “Butch” Kirkland, president of the Navy League Nebraska chapter. “That’s not going to happen this year.”

Still, Kirkland said, the year won’t be without Navy-related events. The Navy League is bringing the “Sea Chanters,” a 20-member chorus that is part of the Navy Band, to Omaha May 2 for a free concert at the Holland Center. Information about tickets will be announced later.

And the Navy League is working with a local committee, led by philanthropist Susie Buffett and businessman Mike Yanney, to plan events connected to the commissioning of the USS Omaha. The littoral combat ship is expected to become part of the Navy’s surface-warfare fleet in San Diego in the fall.

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