Air show part of Atlantic City's resurgence

ATLANTIC CITY (WPVI) -- The crowds on the boardwalk and beach watching the air show Wednesday were a perfect example of Atlantic City's effort at diversifying.

"Look at the way the boardwalk is packed today. This is the way Atlantic City used to be. This is the way it should be every single day," Melissa Navitsky of Plymouth Meeting, Pa. said.

With four of 12 casinos closing in the last year, it's apparent that gambling can't be the only business in town.

"We need to get other tourists here, leisure tourists, people who come just for fun. They come not necessarily for the gaming, but the beautiful ocean views, the great hotels great dining and special events," Jeff Guaracino of the Atlantic City Alliance said.

Atlantic City hosted two big beach concerts last month. Maroon 5 and Rascal Flatts attracted tens of thousands of music fans.

Miss America contestants are now in town for the September 13 pageant.

"There needs to be all kinds of events like this and I think this is an awesome example of what Atlantic City could be," air show watcher Ray Adler of Galloway Township, NJ said.

"I think there needs to be more family oriented activities. I know there's been a lot of discussions about a new water park," Billy Rudnik of Northfield, NJ said.

"There's nothing more to do for the kids here. There's more gambling. I go to Ocean City, but I would love if they would do that here," Linda Olmo of Levittown, Pa. said.

Rosemary Moran, a tour director from Boston, brought two busloads of tourists to the air show.

"Of course I'm sure they'll do some gambling, but that's not the primary thing," Moran said.

After a painful year of downsizing, seven of Atlantic City's eight surviving casinos are reporting higher profits and the resort is trying to rebrand itself.

There are plans underway to transform the Pier Shops at Caesars, build a giant Ferris wheel on Steel Pier, and finally complete the missing boardwalk in the inlet.

The air show crowd likes that.

"There's a lot of families down here. There's no alcohol, there's no gambling. It's just people having a good time," Karen Roman of Monroeville, NJ said.

"We were going to go to New York and when we got here we're kind of surprised and this actually looks like more fun than Las Vegas," Kelly Upton of Napa, California said.

People we talked with on the boardwalk say Atlantic City has reinvented itself before and, while the challenges here are serious, they think it can happen again.
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