The Blue Angels are back over Annapolis next week, flying in for Naval Academy commissioning week ceremonies.

We all love a Blue Angels show, right? Roger that.

Somewhere between those diamond dirty loops and fleurs-de-lis formations above the Severn River on Tuesday and Wednesday, though, my inner cynic will pop out.

“Hey, this is free,” I’ll ask myself, “but what does it cost?”

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The Blue Angels have an answer.

“It varies from show to show based on distance and length of the air show, but the average cost of an air show comes out to around $700,000,” Lt. Ben Bushong, public affairs officer for the team, wrote in an email.

“That includes everything involved, such as travel, fuel, lodging, air show costs, etc. We travel with about 60 personnel to each show site.”


“I wonder,” my inner cynic persisted, “if it might be more than that.”

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Slog through the fiscal 2024 Navy budget, and you come to a line for Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron. The number of planned flight hours this year is 3,041, with maintenance budgeted at $50 million.

Breaking down the 32 shows this year, that totals about $1.5 million per show. But a lot of work goes into flying those bomb burst maneuvers or tuck under roll turns safely, so figure about half the budget for the show and half for training and other operations.

“The budget covers everything on top of supporting the flight demonstration,” Bushong wrote. “The budget and allotment covers everything operationally necessary to support the entire squadron each season.”

Don’t forget, those blue-and-yellow Super Hornets technically are a surplus squadron that could be repainted and called back into fleet service in a pinch. They cost $70 million each.

Add in support services on the ground provided by local agencies and the Naval Academy, and all that free fun over Annapolis is quite expensive.

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Tell my inner cynic to shut up. Most spectators don’t care what the shows cost.

Thousands will thrill over the Blue Angels from the Naval Academy yard, where the show is centered, or from a boat, a downtown rooftop or the Spa Creek Bridge. Gov. Wes Moore and his staff have the best spot (or at least the most exclusive) — a balcony atop the State House Dome.

Gov. Wes Moore watches the Blue Angels from the top of the State House in May 2023. It’s perhaps the best, or at least most unique, place to catch the annual show. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

There are four chances to catch them. The squadron does a flyover greeting when it arrives Tuesday morning at Joint Base Andrews. A rehearsal over the Severn River takes place at 2 p.m. that day, followed by the show at 2 p.m. Wednesday. A salute flyover happens at 10 a.m. Friday during the graduation and commissioning ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Any real Blue Angels fan knows to spend some time downtown next week. This year, the commanding officer is Cmdr. Alexander Armatas, a 2002 academy graduate. You can always find members of the team kicking around town during their stay.

Check out the full schedule of Commissioning Week events open to the public, including parades, concerts and details of the Blue Angel shows.

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Here are some other great things to do in the next seven days.

25th anniversary

7:30 p.m. Friday

Opera AACC and the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, featuring the AACC Concert Choir, Chamber Orchestra and soloist Mairin Srygley, will perform “Considering Matthew Shepard,” an oratorio and discussion coming to Kauffman Theater at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold.

Twenty-five years ago, the young gay man was tied to a fence in rural Wyoming and beaten. His injuries ultimately proved fatal, but his story was a factor in the wider push for LGBTQ+ acceptance.

“Even though it is a heartbreaking story, listening as a community can help us heal, feel hopeful, and find inspiration for protecting the futures of LGBTQ folk, especially in the current political climate,” said Srygley, a mezzo-soprano and speech therapist.

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Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.

A town hall discussion, “25 Years ‘Considering Matthew Shepard’ — Where Are We Now” takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the theater.

General admission tickets to the performances are $25 general admission, $15 for AACC students, faculty, staff, seniors over 60, active military and groups of 10 or more.

Saddle up, pardner

7:30 p.m. Saturday

The Londontowne Symphony Orchestra will prove that cowboys love orchestra music, too, with its performance of The Wild Wild West at Maryland Hall.

Music by Aaron Copland and John Williams will fit into the theme. Solo violinist Laura Colgate will join the symphony. General admission tickets are $25 plus fees, with student tickets free.

Spring singing

8 p.m. Saturday

The Sirens of Spring tour started as a collaboration between Mama’s Black Sheep, a Baltimore duet, and Christine Havrilla and Gypsy Fuzz, fronted by the Philadelphia singer-songwriter.

Now in its 10th year, the expanded lineup at Rams Head on Stage adds Sweet Leda of Annapolis and Regina Sayles, who is based in the Pocono Mountains town of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Tickets are $28.50 plus fees.

Dress up for a fling

2 p.m. Sunday

Stan and Joe’s Saloon will host the Great Gatsby Spring Fling in the Eva Cassidy lot on West Street. Dress in 1920s costumes (Check out the 2013 Baz Luhrmann movie version for visuals) for dancing, games, raffles and a silent auction.

Music will be provided by the Hot Texas Sun, Royal Flush, Dell’Era Skye and Hurricane Kevin Cat5.

Admission is free, but Stan and Joe’s is collecting donations for three Annapolis nonprofits, We Care and Friends, The Crab Creek Conservancy and The AMFM Tim King Fund for Music Education.

Meet the artists

3-5 p.m. Sunday

Four artists will discuss works they have featured in the Contemporary Still Life show during a reception at the Jo Fleming Contemporary Art Gallery.

John Petr, Jodi Ferrier, Edmund Praybe, and Cindy Winnick each have unique perspectives and subjects, ranging from rural fishing scenes to narrative arrangements to styles reminiscent of French Impressionists.

The show runs through June 4. The reception is free, and artworks are priced individually.

Watch on YouTube

Ruth Moody

7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Ruth Moody might be best known for bringing a haunting soprano, guitar and songwriting to the folk group The Wailin’ Jennys. But she’s had a parallel solo career for a while, too.

Now on tour with her new album “Wanderer,” Moody brings her tour to Rams Head on Stage, including the album’s first single “Seventeen.” Tickets are $35 plus fees.

Rick Hutzell is the Annapolis columnist for The Baltimore Banner. He writes about what's happening today, how we got here and where we're going next. The former editor of Capital Gazette, he led the newspaper to a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 2018 mass shooting in its newsroom.

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