K-Wings’ Orange Ice Halloween celebration benefits cancer research

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Wings celebrated Halloween on the ice Saturday, hosting their annual Orange Ice game as they took on the Fort Wayne Komets.

The team did not play in 2020 because of the pandemic. 

“When you see a building full of fans after so long without being able to do this for so long, it makes you feel really good,” John Peterson, the director of public relations for the K-Wings, said. “It gives you the chills. 

Fans in attendance were also in a festive mood. Many of them showed up to Wings Event Center wearing costumes. Max Kortman, 8, came dressed as a hockey goalie. 

“I knew we were going to have fun,” said Max, who had front row seats and received a puck from a K-Wings player. 

Max Kortman, age 8, smiles for a photo. He went to the K-Wings Orange Ice game dressed as a player. (Oct. 30, 2021)

Adults also dressed up in costumes, including Tom Birkenbach. He’s a member of the Kalamazoo Ghostbusters. The group, which formed in 2014, attends events dressed up as Ghostbusters. 

“It’s ever-expanding, improving and it gets ever-heavier,” Birkenbach said of gadgets that make up his costume. 

He said the group enjoys attending events like the Orange Ice game and interacting with children. 

“That’s when a lot of us became enthralled with Ghostbusters,” Birkenbach said. “We want to make sure we carry that over.”

The K-Wings players also showed their Halloween spirit by wearing Ghostbusters-themed jerseys. 

A K-Wings player wears a Ghostbusters-themed jersey to be auctioned off for charity. (Oct. 30, 2021)

The jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society

“To have an organization like the K-Wings behind us and donate proceeds from the jersey auction to us helps us further to accelerate our mission to fight cancer head-on,” said Susan Brogger, a senior development manager for the American Cancer Society. 

Brogger attends an American Cancer Society booth at the K-Wings’ Orange Ice game in Oct. 30, 2021.

Money raised from the auction will support breast cancer research grants and support programs. 

We have support programs like Reach to Recovery, where breast cancer survivors are paired up with newly diagnosed patients to help mentor them through that process,” Brogger explained.

The K-Wings will wear special jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit nonprofit organizations several times this season. 

The K-Wings beat the Komets 4-3 Saturday.

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