ALPENA - Organizing an event like Wings Over Alpena takes a lot of work and a lot of helping hands.
"We've got about 120 civilian volunteers," said Matt Krawczak, Wings Over Alpena volunteer coordinator. Add to that hundreds of military volunteers and Combat Readiness Training Center personnel. Together they tackle jobs of all sizes to make the show a reality.
Local organizations like the Alpena Exchange Club, the Evening Lions and the Thunder Bay Wrecks hockey team have groups of volunteers helping with the show, Krawczak said. A few local Boy Scouts troops help out, and the Civil Air Patrol contributes as well. Students from the National Junior Honors Society and the Alpena Community College Nurses Association have as many as 43 students total lending a hand.
Miss Sunrise Side will also be appearing, singing "America the Beautiful" at 1 p.m. today, Krawczak said.
A pyrotechnics team from Frank's Key & Lock Shop will "set up all the pyro stuff," Krawczak said.
Altogether, the volunteers will put in hundreds of man-hours before, during and after the show, Krawczak said.
"They'll watch the static displays, and make sure people don't smoke under them, make sure people don't touch them or abuse them," he said. "They're in the vending area, selling pop tickets, beer tickets..." He rattled off a list of tasks including watching the inflatable kids play area and picking up garbage, among others. They'll work in shifts, and have a chance to watch some of the show as well.
Another task will be taking surveys of the air show attendees, Krawczak said.
"It helps us to try to make a better air show next time," he said.
Wings Over Alpena begins looking for volunteers about four months ahead of the show, Krawczak said.
"We've got a lot of people who say, 'no, we don't want to do that,' but then you've got people who say, 'yeah, I'd like to be a part of that.'"
Krawczak said he believes those in the latter group want to be a part of something, using the Olympics as an example.
"You have people who make millions, they put three weeks aside and go and volunteer for the Olympics," he said. "People want to feel special, they want to feel like they're contributing to the better cause."
Their willingness to work for free helps keep the show affordable, Krawczak said.
Ultimately, without the efforts of the volunteers, the show couldn't happen, Krawczak said.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.