ASHWAUBENON, Wis (WBAY) - The climax to the year long celebration of Brown County's 200th anniversary takes place Thursday night.
Several thousand people line Appleton Airport to welcome home the 125 veterans on the 40th Old Glory Honor Flight on June 7, 2017. Airport officials say it was by far the largest homecoming crowd the airport has seen. (WBAY photo)
And Brown County leaders are encouraging you to take part in the welcome home for the "Flight of Champions" Honor Flight.
As a member of the steering committee helping organize the first ever Honor Flight to fly out of Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, county supervisor Bernie Erickson is counting down the days.
"It even gets emotional just talking about it because we've put so much work into it, and the reward coming back out of it is just going to be fantastic," says Erickson.
This Thursday, 75 area veterans along with Packers alumni will join Old Glory Honor Flight for a day in Washington, D.C., to see their war memorials free of charge.
There's only one piece of unfinished business: the welcome home crowd.
"We want to make sure that we have at least 2,000 people out here. We'll be passing out flags. So we want to give them just a real special welcome on this very first Honor Flight. Parking will be free, and we've got bands here, and a little bit of everything. No dancing girls, but can't have everything," says Erickson with a chuckle.
Erickson says with the flight expected to return at 8:30 p.m., the airport parking lot will open at 7:30.
If that lot becomes full, free parking will be available across the street, next to the Radisson Hotel, with free shuttles.
He's urging everyone to come and pay tribute for what the county hopes will become an annual tradition.
"We've worked very, very hard to get this very first flight out of Green Bay. Hopefully it will continue, and we'll start probably November 2nd on the second one," says Erickson.