NORTON SHORES, MICH. - While Thursday's match-up between the undefeated Mona Shores and Zeeland West football teams promises to be an epic competition, the game is about more than just football.
The Mona Shores Athletic Department is inviting the entire West Michigan community to their military appreciation event.
Sailor Nation is pulling out all the stops to honor our military men and women, police and fire, as well as first responders during their "Sailor Salute" Thursday night. We're talking about tanks and helicopters on display, a fly over and around 15 different displays in total.
Athletic director Ryan Portenga plays a huge role in making it happen, he spoke with WZZM 13 about what's planned.
"Over the past few years, the Mona Shores football program has dedicated an evening to bring awareness to our military, police, fire and emergency responders as a way of giving back," he said. "This year the celebration is bigger, better and even more significant!
"Under its new title – known as the Mona Shores "Sailor Salute" – the evening serves three purposes and will have a great deal of activity going on for everyone."
Portenga says fans can expect a lot of fun and great sights when they come out.
"First, the event is meant to honor those who serve or have served our country in the military, in our police and fire departments, or as an emergency responder.
"Second, the event is meant to educate our community on issues and needs that exist within these areas of service and remind those in attendance of the freedoms we enjoy.
"Finally, the event is meant to connect all of these branches of service with our community. As part of our great and proud Muskegon community, Mona Shores simply wants to celebrate such service."
During the event, donations will be collected for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Last year's event raised $6,000 for military and veterans charities.
All attendees are encouraged to bring their American flags.
Schedule of events:
- 2 p.m.: Shores Tennis hosts Zeeland West and Northview.
- 3 p.m.: Shores Boys Soccer hosts West Ottawa
- 3 p.m.: Shores JV Volleyball hosts Northview and West Ottawa.
- 2- 4 p.m.: Tons of emergency responder and military vehicles setup inside Sailor Stadium for the Sailor Salute Expo.
- 4 p.m.: A US Army "Lakota" chopper lands at Sailor Stadium.
- 5 p.m.: 1,500 singers get their free Red, White, and Blue t-shirt and begin rehearsing "God Bless America" and our "Nation Anthem" in the Sailor Center.
- 5 p.m.: Pre-game show begins on WLCS 98.3 with full coverage of the football game
- 6:15 p.m.: The "Freedom Rider" motorcycle riders invade Sailor Stadium.
- 6:40 p.m.: Mona Shores Marching Band takes the field
- 6:50 p.m.: Singers will take the field with the award-winning Sailor Marching Band to lead all in attendance in the singing of “God Bless America” and the “National Anthem.
- 6:57 p.m.: The Hooligan Flight Team flies over top Sailor Stadium during the singing of our National Anthem.
- 7 p.m.: Shores Football takes on Zeeland West under the Thursday Night Lights - neither team has lost a regular season game since Week 3, 2014.
- 8 p.m.: A surprise!
(© 2016 WZZM)