Atlantic City Airshow and Armed Forces Parade: Two of Summer’s Best Free Events


I can’t think of a better way to experience the sun, surf and the sonic boom of an F-22 Raptor airplane than the Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder over the Boardwalk. If this sounds like a near perfect day to you, as it does to me, read on.

I lived in Ventnor NJ, the town bordering on Atlantic City for 10 years. I am a past volunteer for the show so I would say qualifies me to give the inside scoop on making the most of the Air Show and the Armed Forces Parade.3 planesThe first of the two events is the Salute to the Armed Forces Parade that is scheduled for Tuesday, August 21st beginning at 6 PM on the AC Boardwalk. The parade is more of a local event than a regional one. If you happen to be in the area it is certainly worth coming out.

Experience two of summer's best free events in Atlantic City like a local. Get insider tips on the Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder Over the Boardwalk and the Armed Forces Parade. #ACAirshow #DoAC Click To Tweet

The parade is in its 6th year. Despite the 2015 death of Pinky Kravitz, local media personality and parade founder, the event continues. It offers spectators two-hours of entertainment delivered by floats, marching bands, Veteran’s motorcycle clubs, showy automobiles and members of the US Military. You can even expect bagpipes. Several World War II veterans will serve as this year’s Grand Marshalls for the parade.

StangThis is a free event and no tickets required. The only reserved seating is for war veterans and their families. If you happen to fit the bill, you are welcome to seating at Kennedy Plaza across from Boardwalk Hall.

Parade MotosNot a Vet. Show up early and grab a table at one of the restaurants that line the boardwalk with al fresco dining. I happen to like Chickie and Pete’s Sports Bar at the Tropicana because it is a Philadelphia regional fave. How can you go wrong with Crab Fries glommed with warm gooey cheese? If you cannot get a table outdoors, you can go to the outside take-away window and enjoy your fries while seated at one of the benches along the boardwalk.

Of course, there are plenty of other dining options. You can find everything along the boardwalk from a slice of pizza to lobster tail and a cocktail at Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood located at Bally’s Atlantic City.

Marine BullyIf you are not planning to enjoy the parade while eating at one of these outdoor dining, be sure to bring folding chairs, as bench seating is limited along the boardwalk.

After the parade, stick around for the Tropicana’s Multimedia Light and Sound Show. Shows run every half-hour beginning at 8:30 PM. If you are people watchers like me, the Atlantic City Boardwalk never disappoints.

Beach UmbrellasThe big event, the Atlantic City Airshow: Thunder Over The Boardwalk is August 22nd, with the first flyby scheduled for 10:40 AM. The show always offers a day of thrills. You can expect the Army Golden Knights open the show by flying “Old Glory” while executing parachute jumps.

Throughout the day, there will be aerobatic performances by the GEICO Skytypers and more. The US Coast Guard will carry out rescue demonstrations from a MH-65 helicopter. Expect a US Marine Corp. MV-22 Osprey demonstration, a flyby of a NJ State Police choppers and the NJ Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing will execute passes in an F-16 (squeal). Finally, the US Airforce Thunderbirds will close out the day around 3 PM.

Parachuter 1There are a number of vantage points from which to view the show. If you are lucky enough to own a boat or have a friend or family member who does, position yourself in front of Boardwalk Hall for a view from the ocean. Note: Bring a portable radio to listen to the broadcast, as you will be unable to hear the commentators from shore.

3 planes 1If you are staying on land, to make the most of the event you will want to arrive early. Bring your sunscreen, beach chairs and an umbrella. Find a spot on the beach near Boardwalk Hall and plant yourself for the day. This is where the action happens and you wont have trouble hearing the commentator. The locals and repeat attendees know this, so they will claim the prime real estate quick. Bonus: Atlantic City beaches are one of the few free beaches left in New Jersey.

F-16sNot up for all that sun? Purchase Flight Line Club seating. No sitting on the ground (unless you want to) and no sand in your sandwich. As a Club member, you have beach seating and all you can eat lunch in a tented area with tables and chairs. Additionally, non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day and a portable restroom is on-site. The cost is $50 for adults and $30 for kids ages 3 to 11.

Get the insider scoop on two of summer's best free events in Atlantic City; The Atlantic City Airshow:Thunder Over the Boardwalk and the Armed Forces Parade. #ACAirshow #DoAC Click To Tweet

Still not sophisticated enough? Upgrade to VIP with the Under the Thunder Package. View the show from a seat in the air-conditioned luxury of One Atlantic or grab a closer look from one of its terraces. Dine from an up-scale lunch menu and enjoy a cash bar. All for $100 per person.

Parking is available at the lot on the AC Expressway just beyond the Pleasantville toll plaza (mile marker 4). Shuttle service will be available for $20 and will run continuously from 9 AM to 6 PM. The drop off and pick up location is at Indiana Avenue & Pop Lloyd Boulevard adjacent to the Boardwalk.


Additionally, there will be parking available in the city’s municipal lots (expect to pay $10 / day). If so inclined, you can save yourself the headache of the mass exodus after the show by parking just outside the city in Ventnor and walking less than a mile down the boardwalk.

A final word on parking, The Borgata is running free shuttles to and from the show. There is a $5 fee to park.

CG Chopper

If all the crowds and fanfare doesn’t appeal to you, get the authentic local experience. The day before the big show, there is a practice run of the entire event. There are no announcers so if you want to know what aircraft you are seeing or any data about the planes, you will have to do your research. If you can get your hands on a show schedule (usually, published the day before in the Press of Atlantic City), you should be reasonably able to determine, based on time and order, what you are viewing.

No matter how or when you decide to watch show, it is sure to WOW.

Atlantic City Airsow Like ALocal



Susan Decoteau-Ferrier

Travel writer/blogger, photographer. Avid potter and wanna-be artist. Wife, Mom to 6 fur kids, gardener, coffee snob.


  1. Sounds like a fun event and I loved your pictures. Especially the one of the adorable bull dog 😀

  2. This seems like so much fun! My dad would love this 🙂

  3. Your experience with this event really shows. You provide great suggestions and insider knowledge that is great for anyone attending the event!

  4. It sounds like a great event to attend. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Love Airshows and all things Military, maybe I am prejudiced since I am retired Military. What MC Group is that, The Patriot Guard?

  6. Thank you for posting this! It is chockablock full of great information. I’m just down in Delaware, and you’ve made me want to drive up to experience this!

  7. Sounds fun, Susan! I think I’d go with your suggestion for the day prior and avoid all the crowds. 🙂 And I second the Chickie and Pete’s recommendation! We have one in King of Prussia and it’s great.

  8. I love airshows. We have a great one here in San Diego. Blue Angels are always my favorite! Great overview of the Thunder Boardwalk event!

    • I love the Blue Angels. They are always a favorite. This show has had the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds perform together. Quite performance. I have had the pleasure of meeting pilots from both. Fascinating.

  9. Great information. I grew up in a Navy town and love watching air shows. And what better location to see an air show and a parade than the boardwalk of Atlantic City.

  10. Love going to events like this when I’m traveling and great to see the tips. Good to know the light show takes place afterwards since I wouldn’t want to miss it.

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