Township plans a spectacular opening night on Friday
By Jim Newell
It’s been more than two years in the making but now the dream that was the Orion on Deck project – that has since grown into the Miracle League Field – is about to become a reality.
Opening night for the Miracle League Field begins at 7 p.m. on Friday at Friendship Park.
The Miracle League Field of North Oakland County is an all-inclusive baseball field where kids and adults with special needs can play. The approximately $600,000 project is a partnership between Orion and Independence townships and the Easterseals Michigan, and is financed through donations and in-kind services.
“We’re very excited for opening night. We want everyone to be there. We’re hoping for at least 500 people to come out and give these kids a World Series experience on opening night,” said Jenny Bhatti, special assistant to the supervisor. “There’s going to be a live band, fireworks, food, giveaways – it’ going to be a great show.”
The festivities begin with opening ceremonies and speeches by the Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett and Steve Peck, founder of the Miracle League of Michigan.
But the highlight of the evening will be the one-inning game between the Orion and Clarkston Miracle League teams.
“We have a lot of kids that we want to get through,” said Bhatti, who has taken the lead in organizing the Miracle League Field grand opening. “Some are the children of our sponsors. The kids from Dutton Farms will be there, and kids from the therapeutic programs from Orion and Independence townships. Each kid is paired with a buddy.”
Bhatti suggests that people bring lawn chairs and blankets and make it a night out in Orion Township.
“We guarantee we’re going to have more people than the bleachers can hold,” she said. “We’ll have some free food, and we’ll have some food trucks (selling food), where a portion of proceeds will go back to the Miracle League Field.”
The Miracle League Field will have a rubber surface to make it safer for players, dugouts and the entire parking lot will be paved. It will be accessible to able-bodied and special needs players. Barnett hopes to build a press box, concessions stand and scoreboard.
The field will also be used for disabled veterans, therapeutic programs and the community-at-large, said Orion Twp. Parks & Recreation Director Aaron Whatley.
“It’s going to be a very heartwarming, emotional night that’s going to leave a smile on your face for weeks to come,” Bhatti said. “You can expect the entire crowd, at different times, to be all teary-eyed together. It tugs at your heart like nothing else.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer or making a donation can contact Jenny Bhatti in the Township offices at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-391-0304 x1003
See the Aug. 14 issue of The Lake Orion Review for coverage and photos of the Miracle League Field of North Oakland County grand opening.