Cheers & Jeers: Wright Memorial Centennial Celebration

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Kitty Hawk 2003 Celebration Events

Cheers for great events, speakers, exhibits and flyovers. Grade: A

Cheers to the Department of Transportation for the extraordinary shuttle system and traffic control. We never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus at either end. The drivers and staff at the arrival point were courteous and helpful. The point of departure for buses with different destinations was clearly marked and waiting lines clearly designated. Grade: A+

Jeers for Mother Nature for not providing sufficient wind on Dec. 17. Grade: F

Cheers for Wright Experience crew for valiant attempt to fly on Dec. 17. Grade: A+

Jeers for Reuters news headline on Dec. 17 that read, “Wright brothers reenactment flops in the mud.” Grade: F

Cheers for the courteous, self controlled crowd. Grade: A plus

Jeers for building an expensive outdoor stage that couldn’t keep the rain off President Bush during his speech. Grade: F

Jeers for spectator paths that became lakes with angle deep muck during the rain. Grade: F

Jeers for placing guest speakers in the corner of the EAA Building, exposing them to the loud crowd noise within the building. Also, no one was assigned to introduce the speakers. Quality of speakers: Grade: A+, Noise pollution: Grade: D

Cheers for the volunteers who maintained a cheerful manner throughout the centennial. Grade: A

Jeers for the undefined waiting lines in the food tents that were overwhelmed by the crowd. We brought our own food after one experience. Grade: D

Jeers for holding panel sessions within the Wright Brothers Visitor Center that has inadequate space and sound system. Many people could not see nor hear the proceedings. Grade: D

Cheers for the estimated $15 million of visitor expenditures and estimated $10 million in infrastructure improvements. Grade: A

Jeers for attendance less than expected. Organizers had expected 35,000 per day to attend the centennial. There was only one day that estimated attendance exceeded 30,000 and that was on Dec. 17th. The worse day was Dec. 12th when estimated attendance was only 5,000. Grade: C

Cheers for the positive impact on local businesses. Many were able to recoup losses resulting from Hurricane Isabel. However, not all businesses shared in the increased income. Final economic impact still to be determined. Grade: B

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