Panama City Beach – WEST BAY — Free tickets are available for the May 22, 2010 community grand opening celebration of the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP).
Event coordinator Tammala Spencer said the day-long event will be free and open to the public, but tickets will be required. They will be available at several locations throughout Bay County, as well as one location in Walton County.
“We want to have as firm a count as we can of how many people will be coming,” Spencer said Thursday.
Spencer said the celebration, to be held at the new airport near West Bay just north of County 388, will include local and regional bands, including two local high school bands, food and drink vendors and tours of the new airport terminal building.
A grand opening ribbon-cutting will be held sometime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. that Saturday, Spencer said. The first plane will land on the new 10,000-runway, although Spencer would not say whether it would be Southwest Airlines or Delta Air Lines, the carriers that will operate from the new airport. Water cannons will be deployed as part of the celebration, she said.
The first day of routine passenger operations for the new $318 million airport is set for May 23, with the first flight — a Southwest flight to Orlando — scheduled to depart at 7:25 a.m., according to Southwest’s website.
“We hope everyone comes and helps us celebrate,” she said.
A free parking pass for May 22 can be downloaded from the Web site http://www.northwestfloridabeaches.com.
A formal “green-tie” dinner also is planned for May 21, with tickets going for $1,250 per 10-person table and individual tickets selling for $125.
That event is being planned by noted Pensacola chef Jim Shirley, who is perhaps best known for preparing the meals for Spanish King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia when they visited Pensacola to help celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Spanish settlement.
If you go
Free tickets for the Saturday, May 22, event can be picked up at the following locations:
• Bay County Chamber of Commerce, 235 W. Fifth St., downtown Panama City
• Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, 17001 Back Beach Road (U.S. 98), Panama City Beach
• Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, 309 Richard Jackson Blvd., Panama City Beach
• Mexico Beach CDC, 102 Canal Parkway, Mexico Beach
• Walton County Chamber of Commerce, 63 S. Centre Trail, Santa Rosa Beach
• Beaches of South Walton, 25777 U.S. 331 S.
• Panama City-Bay County International Airport (current airport), 3173 Airport Road, Panama City
All money for the weekend gala is being raised through donations from private companies, organizations and individuals; “in-kind” services, such as site facilities and security by the Airport Authority; and ticket sales to Friday’s dinner.
The New Airport is less than 12 miles from our Panama City Beach vacation rental condos at Celadon Beach Resort http://www.bestpanamacitybeachcondo.com