Blue Angels, Thunderbirds draw crowds in Philadelphia region; many ignore social distancing

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Standing nearly shoulder to shoulder, spectators jammed trails in Trenton, the riverfront at Penn's Landing and the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum to get a glimpse of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds on Tuesday afternoon.

The salute, from the Air Force and Navy, was in honor of health care workers, first responders, military, and other essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 crisis.

But not everyone was social distancing.

"I think it was a tricky time to have a flyover. It feels a bit ironic that we're being told to stay inside and at the same time to go outside and watch an air show," said Brian Weiner.

READ MORE: Thunderbirds, Blue Angels fly over Philadelphia region to honor frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic
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The Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, honored those on the frontline of COVID-19 with a formation flight over Philadelphia.

Even the famous squad advised residents to watch "from the safety of their quarantined homes."

"I understand now more than ever, unity and community are important but you have to balance that ultimately with the safety of every person who lives here," said Amanda Barany.

And by Tuesday evening, places like the Schuylkill River Trail looked no different.

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Many did not follow social distancing guidelines to watch flyover

"The trail is very crowded," said Mike Rubenstein.

"It's very difficult to ride bikes on the trail, it's only about eight feet wide and everyone tries to social distance six feet and it doesn't work," added Rubenstein.

"With the weather breaking, it's hard to stay in the house," said Tyron Banks. "I'm stir-crazy and I'm sure everyone else is too."

And some worry that desperation to get out will only get worse.

"It's easier to get complacent as the weather gets better and the days go by and realize, 'Hey I'm not sick yet, maybe I won't get sick,'" said Barany.

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The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly over Center City Philadelphia on April 28, 2020.

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The Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels flew over the Philadelphia region on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

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The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly over Trenton on April 28, 2020.


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