LINCOLN PARK — Before his trip to Chicago this week, 11-year-old Ruben Jacinto had never flown on an airplane.
Now, after watching the acts at the Chicago Air & Water Show, Ruben, from California visiting family, has a new dream: He was wants to be a pilot.
"It looks fun," Jacinto said, who was with his sister, Esther, 22, and uncle, Ruben, 30.
After seeing parachutists float down to North Avenue Beach, Ruben said they were his favorite part of the show and he wants to parachute when he grows up.
This year marked the 55th anniversary for the event, which brought in new performers like the GEICO Skytypers and the All Veteran Parachute Team.
More than 15 acts headlined the two-day event, which reportedly drew 1.7 million to the lakefront, about 300,000 less than last year.
Though Victor Jacinto, has lived in the city for decades, he said this year's show was the first he had attended. His favorite part during Saturday's acts came when planes released smoke that formed the shape of a heart.
Mary May, a spokesperson for the Department of Cultural Affairs, said this year's show — which does not feature the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds because of military budget cuts — had six new pavilion teams.
Among those teams was the GEICO Skytypers, which usesd smoke to "type" messages in the sky. Their style looks like texting, May said. On Saturday, the crew's message was dedicated to the show: "Happy 55th A+W."
"They're all trying to do different things," May said. "It's just a great time. The best part about it is it's free."
Next year, the Jacintos have bigger plans: Esther wants to bring her parents and other brother to Chicago to catch the show.
"We don't get this in California," Esther said.