CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of people gathered Saturday at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport for the celebration of its 60th anniversary. 

The airport was founded in 1963. The current President and CEO of the airport said the building and operations have changed a lot since then. 

“Much smaller facility, not as many runways or taxiways. The tower was here, but some of the other facilities were not,” Tory Richardson said. 

With 60 years of improvements and innovations, Richardson said they already have new projects in motion. 

“Over the next five years, we have Program Elevate, which is six large projects, totaling over a half a billion dollars of investment, really to help us continue to support and serve the community,” Richardson said.

Those projects include a new consolidated rental car facility, an expansion to Concourse A and a large terminal enhancement.

Richardson said Saturday’s festivities were a way to give back to the community that the airport calls home. 

“It’s a party. It’s a celebration. It’s saying thank you back to the community for allowing us and trusting us to support the community and serve the community over the past six decades. And really, we look to, you know, see more and do more of that in the future,” Richardson said. 

The event went from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It had live music, food trucks, airplanes and vendors, including the West Michigan Aviation Academy.