TOWN OF NEWBURGH — For people who wanted to watch Saturday's New York Air Show for free, a two-mile span of Route 17K was the place to be.

State police blocked a popular free spot for many spectators near the FedEx Ship Center on Governor Drive, sending some air-show enthusiasts farther down Route 17K.

State police patrolled the short stretch off Route 17K in a loop. Signs plastered to fences and barrels along the road warned drivers not to park on the shoulders. Several times an officer had to pull behind cars parked near the airport fence to tell drivers to move.

"It was the only place I could find that police didn't kick me out of," said Kevin Kroger, of Carmel, who was sitting in a wooden chair in the back of his pickup truck at the Northeast Business Center.

Kroger originally planned to watch the show from Governor Drive but ended up at the business center since it had several open parking lots.

Kroger said his injured toe put him off the crowds inside Stewart International Airport, where his family was.

It was Kroger's fifth time seeing the New York Air Show, but it was his first time tailgating outside the event.

He admitted it was a little boring watching by himself, but noted that he would at least avoid traffic when the show ended.

A short walk from Kroger sat Gina Aceto, of Yonkers, and Wayne Scola, of Peekskill. They found a shady spot under some trees on a hill off the roadside with a clear view of the airport.

Aceto said her friend from New Windsor recommended that she watch the show from there to avoid the entry and parking costs.

"Last year it was $30 to get in and $20 to park and you don't have anything to protect you from the sun, but you see the same thing," Aceto said.

Farther up Route 17K a group of people could be seen watching the show from the roof of Xaver's Foreign Car Service. Whoo's Sports Bar and Grill held a watch party in its parking lot and set up tents that shaded several rows of lawn chairs pointed toward the airport.

Four men, military veterans who have been friends for 34 years, held their own party from the parking lot of Runway Realty. Pete Kurpeawski, Bill Fogarty, Tom Quinlan and Jim Kline, all of the Town of Cornwall, shared pierogies and watched the planes from lawn chairs under a tent.

Kurpeawski and Quinlan listed food and drink expenses, crowds and portable toilets as a few reasons they would rather watch from the convenience of the business' lot.

"Everything ends with money," Fogarty said.

lbellamy@th-record.com